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The Japan Association for Language Teaching
Journal of Professional Issues
Professionalism, Administration and Leadership in Education
Special Interest Group
Volume 5 Number 1 April 1999
(to see back issues, or for more background on PALE or this case, click here)
TABLE OF CONTENTS (click on a title below to page down to the essay)
SPECIAL: THE KUMAMOTO KENRITSU DAIGAKU CASE PART 2
A STATEMENT OF CONCERN OVER THIS CASE By Gene van Troyer
OVERVIEW: WHAT WAS THE ADMINISTRATION THINKING? By Joseph Tomei
THE PROBLEM: TITLES, TEACHING STATUS, AND DISCRIMINATION By Cynthia L. Worthington
THE DAMAGE DONE: LIMITED-TERM APPOINTMENTS AND THEIR EFFECT ON CURRICULUM DEVELOPMENT By Daniel T. Kirk
COVER-UP: ACCOUNTABILITY AND TRANSPARENCY IN PRACTICE: Avenue for promotion or cul-de-sac? By Paul A. Beaufait
PUBLICITY 101: SUGGESTIONS ON HOW TO UTILIZE THE MEDIA By Kirk Masden
PUBLICITY 102: PETITIONING THE JAPANESE PUBLIC By David C. Aldwinckle (with group photo)
TAKING IT TO THE TOP: THE UNION VISITS MONBUSHOU By Farrell Cleary.
ENDGAME: THE SETTLEMENT: Press Releases etc. on job reinstatement By The Kumamoto General Union
CONCLUSIONS: WHAT THIS CASE MEANS AS A PRECEDENT By David C. Aldwinckle
Welcome to the first issue of PALE for the last year of the millenium. We have chosen to devote another issue to the Prefectural University of Kumamoto Case. This is not due to a slow news season--there have been plenty of other developments in the Japanese university system, and only recently has our body of knowledge, fortified by informed and insightful commentators and dispersed by increasingly-efficient communication networks, reached critical mass. Foreign educators in Japan are starting to get wise, get organized, and not just settle for inferior employment status because they always have. Things have changed. Even Monbushou says so. We shall take this up in our August PALE issue.
Meanwhile, the PUK Case is crucial to update and record because it is a template. As you may have read in the December issue of PALE (available at http://www.debito.org/PALEJournals.html), foreign educators in 1998 led a high-profile strike in a Prefectural University for the first time in Japan's history. But wait--there's more to this case now.
Also, for the first time in Japan's history:
1) A union, formed by foreigners, has won continued support from a support organization staffed by lawyers, academics, and regular volunteers (even an elected prefectural assemblyperson) through weekly meetings, publicity campaigns, and sundry public events (including a variety music concert!).
2) This union managed to impress local newspapers that there was enough of a "peg" in PUK that they featured regular articles favorable to the union's side (nearly becoming a kisha kurabu, with reporters waiting outside for days during excruciating negotiations for a settlement). Consequently:
3) This union has been circulating a petition through Kumamoto--a LDP-conservative military-outpost town--and so far gotten an unbelievable 6000+ signatures from supportive "just-folks".
4) This union appealed beyond Kumamoto through a thriving bilingual web site (http://www.gorogoro.co.jp/kendai/), fat mass mailings of irrefutable substantiation to international reporters, a press conference in Tokyo at the Foreign Correspondents' Club (written up in the Japan Times June 20, 1998), a talk at the University of Hawaii at Manoa, and an upcoming article published by the Japan Policy Research Institute (http://www.nmjc.org/jpri/).
5) This union went to Tokyo to visit the very towers of power: Monbushou (the Ministry of Education). Meeting with top officials via connections with a Diet member, the union saw confirmation that PUK had lied about accreditation submissions, and sparked a Monbushou investigation of the university.
6) This union has interested otherwise-neutral JALT enough to pass a motion at a recent Exbo and have President Van Troyer write a scathing message expressing JALT's concern (included in this journal).
7) This union has managed to bring the university, which for years had refused to acknowledge the existence of the union, the necessity of negotiations, or even the existence of a problem, to the bargaining table. By involving the Kumamoto Regional Labor Commission (chihou roudou iinkai--a group of labor experts and businessmen who had other things to do yet put four months into this case) as intermediary, the union managed to open a dialog which would otherwise have been impossible short of a court case. The PUK Case is a healthy precedent reinforcing a union's legal right to exist and be talked to.
8) Most breathtakingly, this union has managed to make the university reverse its decision and reach a Settlement (wakai)--not of hush-money or foreigner soul-selling--but of reinstatement. Despite fifteen years of unrequited complaints culminating in troublemaker dismissal, the university had never placed the chip of "rehiring" on the bargaining table. That is, until the union geared up its networks. Look what happened: As of April 1999, union members have been reemployed at the same (admittedly ambiguous) job status for another year without a capped contract. Although this may only be a splint on a gaping wound, the point is that union members live to fight another year. It was an positive step for the little people in a system which usually squashes them.
In sum, NONE of this would have been accomplished without union and community organization. Which is why documenting this case over two PALE Journals is paramount. It is a how-to guide for protecting one's rights in Japanese, with Japanese, through Japanese, and Japanesely.
1999 heralds changing tides. Your Hokkaido-based journal editor has gone down to Kumamoto twice on his own dime these past three months to witness these momentous events. He wouldn't have missed them for the world. Now you won't have to either. Read on.
Editor, PALE Journal
STATEMENT OF CONCERN OVER
AT THE PREFECTURAL UNIVERSITY OF KUMAMOTO
Gene van Troyer, President, The Japan Association for Language Teaching
Written to fulfill a motion made at JALT Exbo January 30, 1999
At the direction of the Executive Board of the Japan Association for Language Teaching (JALT), I have been mandated to write a letter expressing concern about the situation at the Prefectural University of Kumamoto regarding the treatment of foreign teaching staff.
JALT is in no position to determine the merits of the case being litigated between the foreign teachers at the Prefectural University of Kumamoto and the University itself. We find it highly significant, however, that the Governor of Kumamoto Prefecture received a petition from the Coalition Against Discrimination by the Prefectural University of Kumamoto, signed by Japanese academics from other universities both within and outside of Kumamoto.
JALT's concern is not one of labor relations, but of education, professionalism, and the collegian academy in general. If faculty are being threatened with termination for no other reason than that they are non-Japanese, they are unlikely to be able to perform at peak efficiency as educators. Too much of their time will be consumed in fighting an administration that is insensitive to matters of fairness and equality.
This has an impact on the quality of education delivered to the students: time spent by faculty defending their rights is time taken away from what would otherwise be spent attending to the students' needs. In the end, the students are denied the fullest attention to which they are entitled.
Such disputes are also a public relations disaster for the University. They make the university look mean, petty, arbitrary, and runs counter to the University's mission, which is to educate. It conveys the impression that administrators are more important than faculty, the very people who actually foster learning among our youth. This does not speak well for an educational institution.
JALT sincerely hopes that the dispute at the Prefectural University of Kumamoto will be resolved in a way that is mutually satisfactory to administration and faculty, and the University will come to see that discriminatory practices serve only to hinder, not advance the goals of sound education.
Japanese Translation of the Above Statement
February 27, 1999
Gene van Troyer, President, JALT
Gene van Troyer is President of JALT. An addendum Gene appended to the above letter reads: "There will be many who object to this action I have taken in JALT's behalf, an action that I would have never undertaken on my own. The collective wisdom of the JALT Executive Board told me to do it, and as JALT President I am required to follow the decisions of the Executive Board. I hope that those who object to this kind of action will retain their memberships in JALT." (email to JALT EXBO Mailing List, March 3, 1999, document number 04078)
Opening: An Overall Assessment of the Situation
The labor situation at The Prefectural University
(Kumamoto Kenritsu Dai)
What was the administration thinking?
By Joseph Tomei, Kumamoto Gakuen University
Given the fact that the university has, except for the occasional two-line comment, not given its view of the dispute, this article is regrettably almost entirely supposition and speculation. However, if we view this situation only from the foreigner's perspective, we are seeing but half of the story--ignoring systemic factors within the administration. So let us at least attempt to see the university's motivations.
It was 1993 when Kumamoto Prefectural Women's University, following the steps of other prefectural universities and taking advantage of a special window of opportunity set forth by Monbushou, moved to change to a co-educational institution and add a new Faculty of Administrative Studies [sougou kanri gaku]. It is important to remember the economic and social situation Japan as a whole was in. It was the tail-end of the bubble and it seemed that the Japanese economic miracle was a given. The buzzwords of "internationalization" and "globalization" were very much in the air. Thus, it would not be enough to merely change the university to a co-ed institution and leave everything else the same. What Monbushou's rhetoric demanded was not merely a name change and a new department, but also a curriculum change that emphasized "communicative" language education, focusing on oral/aural competency.
For a prefectural university, whose administrative staff may not have been experienced in handling the paperwork demands of Monbushou and were often transferred and replaced, it was obvious that the easiest path would be to follow in the steps of other prefectural universities applying for accreditation--so much that the bulk of the paperwork was simply copied from the submitted documents of another prefecture and the prefecture's name changed to "Kumamoto". As the then-current push towards communicative competence and the restructuring of general education departments was in full swing, the English program at the Prefectural University of Kumamoto was presented as a pillar of the new Administrative Studies Department, which would attempt to develop an international awareness in their students.
(As an aside, this could explain why one of the hired teachers was chosen despite an absence of EFL experience. Cynthia Worthington, because of her legal experience in the US and Japan, as well as being admitted to practice before the New York Bar, was thought to be an ideal match for the new Faculty of Administrative Studies, a fact now ignored in the university's current rhetoric about rehiring her.)
In this curriculum, the foreign teachers' role was substantial. A wide ranging set of classes taught entirely by native speakers of English was set up. The classes were set to a student-teacher ratio [25:1] that demanded several new foreign teachers be hired.
The curriculum and Monbushou accreditation required that the foreign teachers be hired not as part-time teachers, but as full-fledged members of the faculty, and their presence in large numbers became attractive not only for Administrative Studies majors, but for English majors in the Faculty of Letters as well.
Along with the small classes was a call for new classrooms with integrated language lab equipment, necessitating technical competence as well as methodological flexibility. Thus, the curriculum embodied many of the goals for more communicative curricula that Monbushou had only recently set out, and was approved easily.
However, these plans appear to have been made completely separately from the core Japanese faculty of the Administrative Studies faculty. Though this curriculum for English yielded excellent results (as witnessed in my own experiences teaching Administrative Studies students), the English curriculum was not integrated into the core administrative curriculum in any way. It could probably be described as a tangential stream. The root cause is that none of the Japanese teachers participated in any of the English communication curriculum at the time, and it appears that none of the Japanese teachers accepted that language instruction was an integral part of their faculty's education.
Thus, we have an innovative curriculum incorporating a large number of foreign teachers that was placed before Monbushou to obtain accreditation. The inability of the administration to integrate foreigners into the university indicates either that the university was operating in bad faith from the outset, or that they thought any native speaker could be plugged into these classes.
This feeling was shared by the administration, because they wanted to hire the foreigners as gaikokujin kyoushi, a category reserved for national universities only. As a prefectural university, the only category available was that of sennin kyouin. Sennin kyouin is a term that resists translation into English. Rendered as "full-time teacher", it loses the aspect that all Japanese understand--that those hired under this category are tenured.
It should be noted here that the actual legal status of gaikokujin kyoushi at national universities remains murky. Comments from Monbushou (see article from Farrell Cleary below in this issue) seem to indicate that Monbushou accepts that gaikokujin kyoushi are not sennin.
It has also been suggested that declaring the foreign teachers to be sennin would guarantee Monbushou approval. Regardless of the true motivations of declaring the foreign teachers as sennin, the seed of the dispute can be found here in this problem.
When faced with this situation, the other prefectural universities whose applications preceeded Kumamoto's simply bowed to the law, hiring their foreign teachers on the same terms as Japanese faculty. These universities include Aichi, Aizu, Hiroshima, Miyazaki, and Yamaguchi. But what Kumamoto Kenritsu Daigaku chose to do differently lies at the heart of the dispute. They reported the foreign teachers as "sennin kyouin" to Monbushou, yet had them sign contracts for a little-known category set out in prefectural law as "tokubetsu shokutaku hijoukin", which can be rendered in English as "Special Part-time Appointments". The administration's position was that educationally, the foreign teachers are "sennin", emphasizing that they have a "full-time" position in terms of teaching load and responsibilities. For administrative purposes, however, the teachers would be employed as part-time workers.
Given this, we can now understand one of the administration's complaints: that the foreign teachers knew when they were hired that they would not be "regular" faculty members and are thus pursuing their grievance under false pretenses. As might be expected, the situation is much more complicated.
Before accepting the position, the nine teachers were asked to sign shuunin shoudakusho (acceptances of appointment) which stated that the foreigners were sennin kyouin. This made it appear that the university was offering tenured, or at least more permanent, positions than were previously offered to the foreign teachers at the former Women's University.
However, when it came time to sign contracts, five people were offered "regular" appointments which were based on three-year renewable contracts. These teachers, though not tenured, were at least afforded bonuses, participation in university elections, and the opportunity for promotion. The remaining four were offered the "tokubetsu shokutaku hijoukin gaikokujin kyoushi" contracts, despite having signed documents which said they were sennin. One of those teachers, Farrell Cleary, previously worked at the university and had gone to France to pursue a Diplome d'Etudes Avancees, which would probably lie between an M.A. and a Ph.D. in the American system. After completing that degree, he applied and was accepted for a one-year position.
When working at the university previously, Farrell had spoken to faculty about the problems that one-year renewable contracts raised. Thus, he (as did two other faculty in the same position) thought (incorrectly, as it turned out) that the university had decided to upgrade the status of these positions. The fourth person began work with the new university and had no suspicion that the sennin post signed for would turn into a tokubetsu shokutaku hijoukin. When viewed in this light, it is probably galling to the university to have teachers familiar with the old system argue that the new system was different.
In April 1994, when the new school year began and the actual contract ("Confirmation of Terms of Employment") was presented, ALL OF THE FOUR teachers given 'part-time, irregular' contracts refused to sign and asked for employment terms matching the Letters of Acceptance they had signed previously. Several meetings and attempted meetings followed, but no moves to compromise were made by the university.
At this time, Cynthia Worthington prepared an 18-page brief describing the situation in late 1993, and sent it to the US Consulate in Fukuoka. Walter Mondale was currently ambassador, and the non-renewal of gaikokujin kyoushi at national universities (cf. Ivan Hall's Cartels of the Mind) was an issue he was pursuing.
The Fukuoka Consulate sent a team to meet with both the foreign teachers and the administration. Unfortunately, the team that was sent did not understand the Japanese academic system. For example, in the letter they sent to the university, they asked that the foreign teachers "be allowed to compete for tenure", not understanding that in Japan, there is no competition for tenure; it is a condition of being hired as a sennin. The letter from the Consulate also accepted the Prefecture's claim that pressure from Monbushou was the cause for the differential treatment of foreigners--an assertion that Monbushou later rejected.
(It should be noted that the damage from this misunderstanding of the situation continues today. When the support group for the foreign teachers presented questions to the Kumamoto gubernatorial candidates concerning the possible ramifications of the treatment of the foreign teachers on Kumamoto's internationalization efforts, the incumbent (and eventual winner of the election) replied that the US Consulate had visited and found no problem with the situation.)
It is impossible to say whether or not the university actually realized that the split treatment (full-time duties with a part-time contract) was problematic, but I believe that they did. However, the Consulate's tepid response convinced them that this was a university internal matter that could be handled without outside interference. The head of the university's General Affairs Section at the time was, by all accounts, able to manage the situation skilfully, meeting with the foreign teachers on a number of occasions and listening to their complaints. Nothing, however, was done to change the situation substantially, but several smaller gestures suggested at least the possibility of change. In the face of the teachers' refusal to sign the part-time terms offered in April 1994, the university finally agreed in February 1995 that both parties sign a document which was, in effect, an agreement to disagree. However, the foreign teachers hoped that this signaled the beginning of actual negotiations concerning the disagreement.
Then, in 1996, the Administrative Studies Faculty, where the bulk of the foreign teachers were employed, asked all of the foreign teachers to reapply for their positions, obstensibly for administrative purposes. In hindsight, this was probably a defining moment. The teachers, who had previously dissented amongst themselves vis-a-vis an appropriate approach, were galvanized into action. After going to the university's teachers' union, where they were denied help because they were not considered regular faculty, they formed their own union, became affiliated with national NUGW of Tokyo, and asked the university to participate in formal negotiations.
It is useful here to analyse the situation from the administration's point of view. Had the university chosen at this point to present some concessions, either granting the teachers superior three-year "regular" contracts, or even increasing the term of contract to allow for more stability, you would probably not be reading a write-up like this. But the administration was unable to do this. Why? My personal reading is that concessions would have been interpreted as "losing" to the union, an outside entity that had interposed itself on what the administration viewed as its right to handle personnel matters privately. Furthermore, the one-year contracts were an administrator's dream, allowing fluctuations in student enrollment and staffing requirements to be handled effortlessly through simple non-renewal. Thus, in February 1998, even as negotiations were underway, the university imposed contracts with punitive measures and unilaterally left negotiations.
Reviewing their options, the teachers realized that the only legally-protected action they could take would be a one-day strike. Work slow-downs, sick-ins, any protest through classes would be illegal. Only a strike was sanctioned. And so, on 24 June, 1998, the affected foreign teachers staged the first strike of foreign teachers at a public university in Japan. (It is interesting to note here the conundrum the university created for itself by its fiddling with statuses: The teachers hired on three-year contracts, because they were full-time prefectural employees and thus legally civil servants, were prohibited by law from striking. But the so-callled "part-timers" on one-year contracts legally became laborers, permitted by law to strike, creating a window for them to take their situation to the streets.)
The administration, possibly betting its chips on being able to deal with the foreign teachers internally, was faced with a lose-lose situation. They could neither acknowledge the substance of the foreign teachers' complaints, nor could they use the strike as grounds for dismissal. It seems likely that the curriculum review committee, established in April 1994, became a vehicle to delete the courses foreigners taught so as to justify the non-renewal of their contracts. It was shortly after the strike that President Teshima announced that the one-year positions were being eliminated in order to "regularize" (･**剃ﾈ) the employment system, with three three-year posts taking the place of the six one-year posts.
Had the foreign teachers been content merely to hope that people around them would come to their senses and lend their support, the former would probably be clearing out their offices now. But what the foreigners did, and what the administration probably did not expect, was develop a grass-roots organization to put pressure on the university. The backbone of this organization, the Kumamoto Kenritsu Daigaku Gaikokujin Sennin Kyouin Mamoru Kai, led by Japanese faculty from the other two major universities in Kumamoto, began raising awareness about the problem through a symposium, a petition campaign and a support concert, as well as weekly meetings. It was one of the Mamoru Kai leaders, Hanada Masanori, who presented the problem raised by the split treatment of the foreign teachers to Monbushou, who has since begun an investigation of the university. His presentation was bolstered by the university submissions to Monbushou obtained by the union under the Japanese Freedom of Information law. With these documents, he was able point out precisely where the university had erred and ask Monbushou officials if they agreed with the university's interpretation. Their answer was no, and shortly after, Monbushou announced an investigation into the university's accreditation application. More on this in the Cleary essay below.
Where were Kumamoto Kenritsu Dai Japanese faculty in all this? First of all, the faculty union also viewed this as a personnel question and as such, one they had no say in. In addition, the faculty union was deemed to be open to only prefectural appointees, which prevented the affected foreign teachers from becoming members. Secondly, it is doubtful that they accepted the foreigners as full members of the university. However, the Japanese faculty have fiercely protected their own perceived rights when these have come into question. A curriculum reform, proposing that Japanese faculty from the Faculty of Letters essentially step in to teach the classes taught by foreigners, was quickly rejected. Ultimately, much of the future struggle will depend on getting these teachers to see that the particular treatment of foreigners represents a devaluing of the role of faculty in general.
It should also be pointed out that the three three-year posts were given to three of the affected teachers, even though it was an open selection, suggests that the Japanese faculty feel some sympathy with their foreign colleagues. Unfortunately, the fact that the two teachers not selected (one chose to leave the university for a new position) for the posts were the only two women involved suggests that traditional discriminatory attitudes towards women in the workplace are still alive and well among Japanese academics.
As it stands now, Monbushou will be investigating the university. It may even take the step of asking the university to resubmit their documentation, along with new documentation, and place the university under a new 4-year supervisory period.
In addition, as a result of the labor negotiation, on March 26th, five days before they were to lose their jobs, an agreement was reached to hire the two remaining affected foreign teachers, Cynthia Worthington and Sandra Mitchell, for one more year under the same shokutaku contracts while negotiations on their status continue.
In trying to uncover why the university clung to a policy that is, on its face, so problematic, a number of interesting possibilities arise. The first is financial skimming-off-the-top: the idea of paying lower salaries to the foreign teachers while receiving government grants based on additional sennin positions (in addition to the extra infrastructural support gained through the appearance of more tenured faculty than the university actually had) may have been too tempting to pass up. The second is that the university wanted the ability to more easily hire and fire its faculty, which is precisely what a one-year contract system allows.
The final possibility, though, remains the most probable as well as the most depressing: the university simply could not imagine foreigners being able to state their case convincingly to Japanese outside of the university and create an impetus for change.
Joseph Tomei is a tenured assistant professor at Kumamoto Gakuen University is in his second year of teaching part-time (meaning hijoukin, with 2 koma a week) at the Prefectural University of Kumamoto. A former term-limited gaikokujin kyoushi of the Faculty of Languages and Letters, Hokkaido University, he is also well-informed about the peculiar status of foreign faculty at Japanese National Universities.
The Job Status Problem in a Nutshell
WHAT'S IN A NAME?
Titles, Teaching Status, and Discrimination
at The Prefectural University of Kumamoto
By Cynthia L. Worthington, Prefectural University of Kumamoto
As foreign teachers in Japan, like most non-Japanese academics, the teachers at the Prefectural University of Kumamoto (PUK) have different employment conditions and are treated differently because they are not Japanese. The simple fact is that as foreigners, they have been deliberately separated out from their Japanese colleagues, given worse conditions, and singled out for second-class, inferior treatment. Much of the distinction in employment is reflected by the very word "foreign" in the job titles held by non-nationals -- gaikokujin kyouin and gaikokujin kyoushi. This is not unique to PUK; it is a problem plaguing the majority of universities in Japan.
Categories of Teaching Staff
A. Educational Categories
Instructional staff at universities in Japan tend to fall into three main categories: sennin 専任, kentan 兼担, and kennin 兼任. Sennin (and kentan) refers to a teacher holding the rank of kyouju (full professor), jokyouju (associate professor), koushi (instructor/lecturer), and joshu (teaching assistant). It shows affiliation to a faculty and designates the teacher as "belonging" to a particular university. It also means full-time and is usually translated as such since professors, associate professors, assistant professors, and research assistants affiliated to a university's faculty and responsible for administration of university management are considered full-time employees.
As full-time teachers, sennin staff have full membership in the academic community, including membership and voting rights at faculty meetings and committees, research budgets, research offices, duty to report on research, and other administrative responsibilities such as making entrance exams. They are paid a salary with a bonus which usually amounts to 4-6 months of salary and benefits such as paid vacations, research leave, and severance pay.
Until the passage of the Sentaku Ninkisei law in August, 1997, permitting universities to apply term limits to their Japanese teaching staff, sennin Japanese teachers were employed without term limits. The closest English equivalent is tenure.
Kentan refers to sennin teachers who although affiliated to one faculty also have teaching responsibilities in another faculty, such as a professor affiliated to a university's law faculty seconded to the social welfare faculty to teach some courses.
Kennin refers to "part-time" teachers who have a contractual arrangement with a university to teach specific courses. They have a one-year term limit and no administrative responsibilities, such as faculty or committee meetings, other than teaching their classes and submitting grades. They are paid by the class, usually on an hourly basis. They receive no payment during university holidays, are not entitled to vacation pay, do not have access to research funding, and do not have their own offices at the university. Often kentan teachers "belong" to another university and arrange to teach one or two courses (koma) at a neighboring university.(1)
B. Employment Status
While the above educational categories tend to imply the type of employment a teacher can expect, that is full-time or part-time, there are separate terms for employment, as distinct from educational, status, although the terms do overlap.
1. joukin (full-time)
As the term indicates, a teacher employed on a joukin basis can expect to be considered a full-time employee, a full member of the university he or she is employed at. The word, however, does not necessarily connote hours of work. A sense that the employment is "permanent" infuses the term.
2. hijoukin (part-time)
Part-time usually refers to work that in the public sector amounts to less than the hours--customarily 40-42 hours per week--designated as full-time. Typically, a teacher employed on a hijoukin basis has the number of specific courses, and the corresponding hours he or she is responsible for, clearly spelled out in a contract with the public employer, and is paid on a course-by-course basis. Like joukin above, however, hijoukin refers less to the number of hours worked than to a prevailing sense of "impermanent" employment. A hijoukin teacher is not a full member of the academic community and is not expected to be responsible for anything more than teaching and grading the courses designated in a contract. A hijoukin teacher thus does not "belong"to the university.
3. hijoukin tokubetsu shokutaku (part-time, special, irregular)
A third category of employment exists primarily, it seems, in prefectural universities. This category usually is applied to employment that carries no expectation of continuation beyond six months or a year, and most often refers in the academic environment to library assistants and technical personnel. When applied to teaching staff, the term has come to mean teachers working full-time with a full course load, who "belong" to the university, and who have duties and responsibilities nearly equivalent to joukin teachers, including research. However, these teachers are employed on one-year contracts, renewable or otherwise, and, at least at the PUK, are paid a percentage of a full salary without bonus and certain other benefits.
C. Japanese Teachers
Japanese teachers can expect that if they are designated as sennin, their employment status will be full-time (joukin). If they are kennin, they can expect to be employed as hijoukin koushi, or "part-time teacher".
Sennin Japanese teachers usually enter a university as an assistant professor or associate professor, and occasionally as a professor, and with a sense of permanence associated with "tenure". Although the ninkisei law was passed in 1998, few universities have introduced term limits for their Japanese sennin teachers.
Japanese teachers are also extensively employed as part-time hijoukin koushi, under the various part-time employment categories specified by different laws, to teach on a course-by-course basis. It appears, however, that no salaried Japanese teacher anywhere is employed as a part-time, special, irregular teacher.
D. Foreign Teachers
At national and public universities, foreign teachers, unlike their Japanese counterparts, encounter a variety of possible employment categories. Until the Special Provisory Law for Employment of Foreigners in National and Public Universities (kokuritsu mata wa kouritsu daigaku ni okeru gaikokujin kyouin no ninyou tou ni kansuru tokubetsu sochi hou) was passed in September 1982, foreign teachers "located" at or "belonging" to national universities were employed as gaikokujin kyoushi. (Foreign teachers had also been hired as hijoukin koushi, on true part-time contracts, before 1982.) The gaikokujin kyoushi position still exists, and these teachers are not treated as part of the faculty meetings (kyoujukai), have limited administrative responsibilities, and are not involved in the management of the university. These positions are outside the regular categories of academic ranking for regular teachers so promotion, for example koushi to jokyouju, is not permitted. A one-year term limit is applied, renewable on an annual basis.
After the 1982 Special Provisory Law, national and public universities, including prefectural universities, were permitted to employ foreign teachers, called gaikokujin kyouin, on the same terms as Japanese teachers. This position carries academic titles (kyouju, jokyouju, koushi, joshu), allows promotion from one rank to the next, forms part of the professorial committees (kyoujukai), and participates in the management of the university. They are essentially the same as their Japanese full-time colleagues with one significant proviso: the university has the discretion to impose term limits on foreign teachers.(2)
Private universities run the gamut from tenured foreign teachers, holding recognized rank, to foreign teachers holding normal rank without term limits, to true hijoukin part-timers.
The Special Situation at the Prefectural University of Kumamoto
A. The Governing Laws
1. Natural Law Regarding Civil Servants (koumuin ni kansuru tozen no houri) and the Special Provisory Law (kokuritsu mata wa kouritsu daigaku ni okeru gaikokujin kyouin no ninyou toou ni kansuru tokubetsu sochi hou)
National and public universities hire employees, including teachers, under specific laws governing the employment of public servants. The Natural Law Regarding Civil Servants (1948) states that an employee must have Japanese citizenship to be a civil servant. The gaikokujin kyoushi position which has existed since Meiji times, however, was not viewed as contravening the law since the foreign teacher was barred from administrative and managerial duties and was therefore not considered responsible for exercising political power.
In 1982, however, the Special Provisory Law permitted universities to hire foreign teachers in the same way as Japanese teachers, if they so choose, and may decide the term of their employment of at national or prefectural universities.
2. Local Government Employees Act (chihou koumuin hou)
The Local Government Employees Act governs employment at the prefectural government level. Teachers can be employed either as ippan shoku chihou koumuin ("regular" public employees) or as hijoukin tokubetsu shokutaku (part-time, special, irregular employees). At the PUK, all full-time teachers are either "regular" public employees (ippan shoku chihou koumuin) on a "full-time" (joukin) basis without term limits (or, if they are not Japanese, with three-year term limits) or "part-time special, irregular" (hijoukin tokubetsu shokutaku) teachers with a one-year term limit. Although this entails a contradictory "full-time part-time" status, the two categories are recognized by the Local Government Employees Act.
There is no specific provision under that Act for foreign teachers at prefectural universities designating a position resembling the gaikokujin kyoushi position found at national universities. Nevertheless, the PUK employs some of its foreign teachers as gaikokujin kyoushi under the hijoukin tokubetsu shokutaku status.(3) Below is a more detailed description of this position and how it differs from the true part-time teachers.
True part-time teachers, hijoukin koushi, both Japanese and foreign, are also hired under the section of the Local Government Employees Act designated as hijoukin tokubetsu shokutaku.
B. Instructional Staff at the PUK
1. hijoukin kyoushi (part-time teachers)
At the PUK there are essentially two types of "full-time" instructional position: one for Japanese full-time teachers and one for foreign full-time teachers. The PUK, however, like other universities, has employed both Japanese and foreign teachers as hijoukin, or part-timers, to teach specific courses on a contractual pay-per-class basis.
These hijoukin usually teach one or two courses (koma), although occasionally they may teach up to four. (This year, however, the university has assigned as many as six koma to a hijoukin teacher, the maximum number of courses usually assumed by a regular, full-time teacher at the PUK.) The hijoukin teachers do not have their own offices, research budgets, or administrative duties. They do not participate in faculty or departmental meetings or on committees.
2. hijoukin tokubetsu shokutaku gaikokujin kyoushi (part-time, special, irregular, foreign teachers)
In 1982, the PUK, then known as Kumamoto Women's University, hired its first foreign teacher to work "full-time". The status of employment was hijoukin tokubetsu shokutaku gaikokujin kyoushi, part-time, special, irregular foreign teacher on one-year renewable contract, under article 3, section 3 of the Local Government Employees Act.
The foreign teachers employed at Kumamoto Women's University in this status, although officially referred to as "part-time", nevertheless draw a salary rather than a pay-per-class wage, have research funding equivalent to that of their Japanese colleagues, and have their own offices. They have been responsible for making entrance exams, participating in working committees, scheduling and timetables, and allocation of certain budgets. They teach full course loads ranging from six to eight koma (Japanese teachers have usually taught no more than six koma), during certain years (1988-1991) were permitted to participate and vote in departmental meetings, and are "anchored" at the university. They receive housing subsidies, research leave, and after 1994, fully-paid vacations commensurate with the Japanese teaching staff.
3. foreign ippan shoku chihou koumuin teachers (regular public employees)
In 1993, for the first time, the newly-accredited PUK employed a foreign linguistics specialist as a regular public employee. The following year, a number of foreign teachers of English joined the ranks of regular public employees as part of the university's plan to seek accreditation of a new faculty. Just as the gaikokujin kyouin at national universities, the regular public employee foreign teachers' duties, responsibilities, benefits, and privileges are the same as their Japanese colleagues: they hold normal academic titles, may seek promotion, have full voting rights and membership in faculty meetings, participate in committees, teach up to six courses, receive salary with bonus, and are entitled to other benefits as well as severance pay. But, they are unlike their Japanese colleagues in one important respect: the PUK has imposed a three-year term limit on the foreign regular teachers while reserving unlimited term employment for the Japanese teachers.
How A Name Affects Rights and Privileges:
The Special Netherworld of the hijoukin tokubetsu shokutaku gaikokujin kyoushi
A. "Special" Status Equals Worse Employment Conditions
These teachers are not part-time, special, or irregular in any sense but a formal one. Their responsibilities and duties, both educational and administrative, closely matched those of their Japanese colleagues. Moreover, until 1998, many of the advertisements for the position stated "full-time".
Yet, although the nature of their work was full-time and despite receiving a salary, the formal status for foreigners was part-time (hijoukin tokubetsu shokutaku). No Japanese teacher at the PUK is or has been employed in that status; all Japanese teachers have been employed as regular, full time public employees or as hijoukin koushi. The pretzel-twisting antics of trying to squeeze teachers doing full-time work into a category reserved for part-time, temporary jobs was reserved for foreign teachers only.
The foreign teachers' official status precluded their holding normal academic titles such as professor, associate professor, or assistant professor and closed any path to promotion. Their contracts stated their schedule as a "30-hour work week" instead of a simple description of the classes and responsibilities. Based on the 30-hour work week specified in the contract, a figure not derived from the reality of the type of work itself, the university calculated their salary as 3/4 of a full-time salary and denied them a bonus and other benefits that accrue to "full-time" regular public employees.
The teachers are not the kind of "irregular" workers often employed on term contracts which involve jobs that create a reasonable expectation of one-year limit, such as advisors, consultants, examiners, or investigators.(4) And, the word "irregular" hardly describes the status of teachers who have worked at the PUK continuously from 4-8 years, and who have received assurances on multiple occasions that their employment would be "indefinite".
The teachers attempted to seek redress through the internal apparatus of the university. Unfortunately, attempts to discuss this issue over a 15-year period were fruitless. The teachers also looked to their own university teachers' union. That union, however, refused to permit the irregular teachers to join saying that its rules would not allow it to accept teachers who held posts under the irregular status.
B. Monbushou and the Status of the "Part-time, Irregular Foreign Teachers"
As recounted elsewhere in this and other PALE Journals, the PUK submitted documents to Monbushou as part its efforts to secure accreditation of its then new Faculty of Administrative Studies. In 1993 and 1994, the foreign teachers signed Acceptance of Appointment (shuunin shoudakusho) documents stating that they accepted appointment in the Japanese version as sennin kyouin, while in the English version, "full-time faculty member of the Administrative Studies Faculty".
Prior to signing those documents, the teachers understood sennin kyouin to mean a full-time teacher affiliated to a faculty, as described at the beginning of this article. Japanese full-time regular teachers confirmed that sennin kyouin meant "full-time teacher holding an academic title". The teachers received assurances that upon signing they would be full-time, regular faculty members in name as well as in fact.
With the next academic year, however, the foreign teachers were presented on April 1, 1994, with the same part-time, special, irregular contracts. The teachers refused to sign those contracts, citing the Acceptance of Appointment documents they had signed, the actual full-time nature of their work, and the promises made. What followed was five years of growing dissatisfaction with the discrepancy between their formal status and the actual nature of their work, broken promises, and agreements (like the shuunin shoudakusho) not honored.
Dissatisfaction and growing insecurity over the longevity of their employment led the teachers to seek legal advice and form the Kumamoto General Union in July 1997.
The president of the universityinsisted during negotiations with the union in 1998 that sennin kyouin could include hijoukin tokubetsu shokutaku status despite understanding in the Japanese academic community to the contrary. He further insisted that Monbushou knew and approved of the university's actions in employing sennin kyouin as hijoukin tokubetsu shokutaku.
In August 1998, the union used Kumamoto Prefecture's newly-passed Freedom of Information Act to request the documents the PUK had actually submitted to Monbushou in 1993. The teachers' insistence that they should not have been hired as hijoukin was dramatically demonstrated when the documents arrived. They clearly show that in 1993 the university reported to Monbushou that it was employing ALL its foreign teachers as full-time faculty members with the ranks of professor, associate professor, or assistant professor (sennin kyouju, sennin jokyouju, sennin koushi). At a meeting with the president in October 1998, in answer to the question about how the teachers' statuses were submitted to Monbushou, he stated that the teachers employed as hijoukin tokubetsu shokutaku were probably submitted as something like gaikokujin kyoushi but certainly not as sennin koushi. When confronted with the Freedom of Information documents, the president could only mutter "akiraka na misu"--it was a clear mistake.
Japanese teachers from universities around Japan have confirmed that sennin koushi/kyouin means full-time faculty member with academic rank. At a visit to Monbushou in February this year, described below in this journal and in the consequent newspaper follow-ups, the Monbushou stated that sennin koushi/kyouin does not include hijoukin shokutaku and that Monbushou was not even aware of, let alone had approved of the university's action.(5)
Discrimination at the Root of Controversy
The problems at the university over employment questions and the wrangling over definitions of status arose out of a simple fact: discrimination. The university, like so many universities in Japan, created separate categories of employment for teachers based on nationality, irrespective of the qualifications, credentials, experience, or ability of the foreign teachers. The PUK had the discretion to employ its foreign teachers the same as its Japanese teachers. The Special Provisory Act of 1982 made clear that there was no legal impediment to offer equal employment terms. The university instead opted to follow the worn and now obsolete path of separate and unequal treatment on the basis of nationality.
So opposed was it to giving foreign teachers equal status, the university created one set of documents for Monbushou stating the teachers were sennin koushi/kyouin while continuing to employ them as hijoukin. It attempted to justify those actions by reading into a phrase, well understood by the academic community, meanings that it was never intended to encompass. It is doubtful that the university would have performed such double somersaults and high wire acts had the teachers involved been Japanese rather than foreign.
Had the university chosen instead to follow the path taken by some other public universities, such as Yamaguchi Prefectural University, Aichi University, and Miyazaki Municipal University, it could have benefitted the education of its students, created a favorable academic environment for all its teachers, and been part of the movement to make Kumamoto and Japan more open and forward-looking, ready to provide intellectual leadership to address pressing global issues.
According to an announcement by the President of the University in Autumn 1998 and discussions held at the Regional Labor Commission (chihou roudou iinkai) hearings from December 1998 through March 1999, the university plans to discontinue the practice of hiring foreign "full-time" teachers in the hijoukin tokubetsu shokutaku gaikokujin kyoushi status. From the academic year 2000, all teachers will be employed as regular, full-time (ippan shoku chihou koumuin) or as true part-time, though unfortunately the university still clings to its rule of imposing term limits on the foreign teachers only.
(1) See kyouiku koumuin tokurei hou for a description of these classifications.
(2) As mentioned eariler in the article, the Diet passed a law in April 1998 permitting universities, at their option, to institute term limits for Japanese teachers as well, though this writer is not aware of any university that has yet done so. [Ed's Note: Niigata University has, and is receiving financial incentives from Monbushou for doing so.]
(3) According to statements made by Monbushou to a delegation on February 18, 1999, Monbushou is aware that foreigners are employed as gaikokujin kyoushi at public universities although that is not a legal category under the Local Government Employees Act.
(4) See chihou koumuin hou, art. 3, sec. 3 for a description of classes of work appertained by the employment status hijoukin tokubetsu shokutaku.
(5) See Kumamoto Nichi Nichi Shinbun, February 19, 1999, and February 25, 1999 for news accounts of Monbushou's statements.
Cynthia L. Worthington is an attorney and member of the New York State Bar. She has worked for the Office of the Administrative Law Judges, US Department of Commerce, Washington, D.C. and for a law firm in Tokyo. She is President of the Kumamoto General Union and is in her seventh year teaching at the Prefectural University of Kumamoto.
The Damage Educational Institutions Wreak upon Themselves by Instituting Discriminatory Systems
and their Effect on Curriculum Development
By Daniel T. Kirk, Prefectural University of Kumamoto
The struggle of English language teachers at Prefectural University of Kumamoto (PUK) has been one to preserve livelihoods as well as to improve the learning environment at the school. The teachers have been struggling, and continue to, in order to bring legitimacy to themselves as professionals and to the discipline that they represent, Teachers of English as a Foreign Language. In its hiring practices the university has created a sub-class of academics, and one significant facet of the education process at PUK remains almost entirely out of this sub-class's hands--access to the curriculum development process. Exclusion from the process is evidence that the school is refusing to include non-Japanese as regular educators in the functions of the institution, and that English as a Foreign Language is not treated as a discipline that deserves the full attention of professionals. Inevitably, this policy is pursued to the detriment of the students, teachers, community, and the institution itself.
PUK began hiring full-time extranational teachers in 1982. All of those teachers up until 1994 were employed on one-year appointments, were all EFL teachers, and were either affiliated with the Faculty of Letters or, from 1991, with the Foreign Language Education Center. From April of 1994 five teachers, all non-Japanese nationals, were employed on three-year appointments. Of the employed at PUK, the only teachers with limited-term appointments are those with nationalities other than Japanese. All of the Japanese sennin kyouin teachers employed by PUK and Kumamoto Prefecture are in regular teaching posts available to them until retirement. This segregation of teachers into those with limited-term appointments and those with regular employment creates the aforementioned disenfranchised sub-class of teachers. This sub-class is not trusted with the creation of curriculum, is ineligible for opportunities to study abroad at certain times, and is excluded from the organs of university life that support and encourage regular teachers to succeed in this particular system.
At PUK, the non-Japanese sub-class is comprised almost entirely of EFL teachers. One Korean teacher of Economics is the only other non-Japanese teacher, and he has a three-year appointment. In 1991, when the Foreign Language Center was opened to service PUK as a whole, curriculum development was out of the hands of the qualified teachers who would actually be teaching the classes. When new teachers arrived on April 1, 1991 to begin teaching classes that began in the same month, the "curriculum" was handed to them, and a shabby piece of work it was. It was simply a time schedule with names of classes in boxes. When teachers, uncomfortable with the lack of course descriptions, went to speak to the faculties for whom they were teaching, they were told that there was no need for descriptions. The basic reason was that eventually all of the classes taught by non-Japanese teachers may at some time revert to teachers of Japanese nationality, and they did not want to be limited by a curriculum or any course descriptions. (Foreshadowing of events to come.)
The next opportunity for non-Japanese teachers to be involved in curriculum development came in late 1992 and early 1993. The PUK, then a women's college, was going to expand its role and scope to include men and a new faculty, the Faculty of Administration. In order to make this new school more attractive, the university was going to offer English on a scale unavailable at almost any other institution, and in order to insure a quality program, the prefecture's bureau in charge of colleges vested the non-Japanese teachers with the power to develop the new curriculum. It was said that the Japanese teachers will be "hands off". This was an exciting breakthrough, because finally English teachers who would eventually be responsible for the classes could decide what would be taught. It was a short-lived fantasy, because soon after we were told by a senior professor that in fact the foreign teachers were "hands off"--meaning excluded from the decisionmaking processes. Professionals who would be responsible for a set of classes for the next four years of their teaching careers would have no input. When the bureaucrats from the Archives Division of the prefecture returned to collect their curriculum, they found that the documentation was not at all what had been expected, and that they had very little time to seek improvements. For the next four years that document, by the power of the fait accompli, remained as the English curriculum for the faculty.
At the end of the four-year probation period enforced by Monbushou on the new faculty, ending March 31, 1998, it again became possible to redefine the EFL program in the Faculty of Administration. Again well-intentioned professors asked for the opinions of the sub-class. By that time the non-Japanese teachers of English were fragmented by differing employment conditions, variant personal and professional interests, and the need to secure alternative employment in the face of unpredictable, but nevertheless certain, dismissal. Finally the teachers put forth a two-page list of suggestions for the faculty to consider. None of the suggestions were accepted.
The EFL teachers at PUK would have another chance to influence the curriculum sooner than they expected, however, when in early 1998 the university's president, Mr Teshima, instituted a Foreign Language Curriculum Revision Committee as a method of eliminating the teachers in the Kumamoto General Union. Only two non-Japanese EFL teachers were on the committee, both of them had three-year appointments. In the guise of a democratic decision, and with the terrified silence or total indifference of most of the teachers, the president and his henchmen rammed a revised curriculum through committees in little more than six months. Recommendations by the EFL teachers were ignored. Pleas by the few vocal opponents of the destruction of the language program were ignored, and without the interdiction of the Kumamoto Labor Board and its role in facilitating an agreement between the Kumamoto Prefecture and Kumamoto General Union, the effects on the teachers, students, and community would have been catastrophic. The number of classes available was reduced. Class sizes were doubled. The Open University Program, a university effort to open regular courses to the public, saw no English course offerings for the first time since 1991. The English Teachers' Recurrent Seminar, in existence since 1991 for junior and senior high school English teachers, was canceled. Again, the EFL teachers have witnessed a curriculum created by non-educators for the purpose, not of sound education, but the elimination of perceived trouble makers.
In the Preface to his book, The Language Teaching Matrix (1990) Jack Richards says, "...an effective second language program depends upon careful information gathering, planning, development, implementation, monitoring, and evaluation." I will use these requisites for effective programming as a point of comparison between them and the criteria that the university has actually employed.
The first requirement is "careful information gathering." EFL teachers had been gathering information about classes and student needs for some time. Several teachers had been accumulating data for years in advance. All of the data suggested that some students were interested in taking foreign language classes other than English; that students felt the need to become more proficient in a second language, most importantly English; and a vast majority of students wanted more offerings with fewer students in each class. One professor of the Faculty of Administration collected verbally transmitted comments from students, which had been transcribed by teachers of other subjects. However, the list of comments, though inconclusive in nature, was interpreted to mean that students were dissatisfied generally with the courses being offered, that they wanted more foreign languages other than English, and that students wanted more classes in translation. All of these conclusions were also interpreted to mean that the present teachers of English were responsible for any shortcomings that existed despite the fact that they were teaching with a curriculum that they had no hand in developing. The information gathered by English teachers about the English program was ignored, and planning continued.
It continued with an interesting take on nationality. The Curriculum Reevaluation Committee had purposely decided to avoid all references to nationality in the planning stages. This decision created interesting dynamics, as the goals of the committee became obvious in their intention to eliminate the positions of non-Japanese teachers who had been active in the labor struggle. In discussions concerning the content of classes for the Faculty of Administration, descriptions including the Japanese phrases dokai ryoku (reading) and hatsugen ryoku (expression) appeared. When I questioned my Japanese colleagues about what they actually had in mind when they read these words, their reply was "translation". When I pointed out that none of the English teachers in the faculty were neither interested in nor actually qualified for teaching translation, and that it was another field of endeavor, not EFL, the reply was that they would have to get Japanese teachers. The fact that nationality was not to be discussed, however, eventually lead these teachers to take their views underground, where they never appeared on paper. (The issue reemerged in early April this year, when one of my colleagues, who had been scheduled to teach an "expression" class, found out on April 2nd that his schedule had changed and he was not teaching the class. When the teachers responsible for scheduling were questioned, their response was that the particular class was originally intended for a Japanese teacher. We requested to see where in the minutes and reports of the committees there was any reference to nationality, and we were told there was no such written reference. These discussions had taken place in the committees and were left unrecorded. The reality is that decisions had been made on the basis of nationality.)
As for the other steps of Mr. Richards' criteria for an effective curriculum, "development, implementation, monitoring, and evaluation", there is the distinct possibility that none of my non-Japanese colleagues will be employed at PUK long enough to witness one cycle of the most recent curriculum, or to participate in the later stages. Two of us are on one-year appointments. Six of us are on three-year appointments, three of which end on March 31, 2000. None of Mr. Richards' requisites can be fulfilled without enough data collection, and the short-term nature of our positions makes that compilation a dubious endeavor. Already, our in-house journal, Language Issues: Journal of the Foreign Language Center, has suffered after five issues and five years of publication. As the Foreword to the 1998 issue notes: "Although a glance over the four issues will show an apparently stable pool of contributors, the contractural insecurity is beginning to take its toll. Of the twelve foreign teachers who are based at the Prefectural University, three left at the end of the 1997-98 academic year, while a fourth left at the end of the previous year. All who left were employed on one-year contracts whose 'part-time' status was in sharp contradiction to the full-time jobs they were happy to do. The insecurity generated by one- and three-year contractual terms has been exacerbated by a recent worsening of the conditions of employment."
Furthermore, at the end of the 1998-99 academic year, one each of the one-year and the three-year staff left for more secure employment. Clearly any possibility of PUK's language deparment being put on the publications map is being short-circuited by a system that undermines livelihoods. Thus job security is like oxygen--without it, research suffocates.
Still, our struggle at PUK is not only about preserving livelihoods, but also about the systematic fortification of stereotypes that some people hold of the EFL teaching profession. EFLs are commonly viewed as temporary, yet they are not given the chance to prove otherwise. PUK, for example, refused to give foreign EFL teachers any responsibilities which would have made them more valuable to the university, proven their professionality, and justified the need for their permanence. It is as though EFLs are being blamed for the plight they find themselves in. Any educator knows, as should administrators, that one must establish the most effective curricula possible for students and the community, and with the support and encouragement of their colleagues. But in systems like PUK's, even the establishment of the obvious involves unnecessary struggle.
The situation is that PUK has decided that, instead of allowing input from the professionals who actually teach the classes or from the students who take them, it is best to sacrifice its language program as a whole in order to stifle dissent from the foreigners. However, because neither these educators nor their numerous supporters have just allowed things to pass, this decision has not eliminated those teachers from the faculty roll or silenced them, although it has seriously damaged the integrity of PUK's newly-accredited and promising language program. The above methods of disenfranchising educators simply because they are foreign does nobody any good--the staff, the school, and least of all the students.
Daniel T. Kirk is an Assistant Professor (koushi) on a three-year contract at the Prefectural University of Kumamoto. He was recently passed over for promotion to Associate Professor (jokyouju) without a verbal or written explanation. One reason could be that his former job status at PUK, that of a full-timer on a one-year contract, was considered as the equivalent of "part-time" (hijoukin) work and therefore countable as only one-third the number of years served. Eight years of accumulated workplace loyalty was thus reduced to six years of recorded service.
How Bureaucratic Systems Thwart Information
and Strengthen Their Own Decisionmaking Powers
Accountability and transparency in practice:
Avenue for promotion or cul-de-sac?
By Paul A. Beaufait, Prefectural University of Kumamoto
One aspect of university employment which is likely to concern all but the highest-ranking faculty members is promotion: the opportunity for advancement in rank. It could be a concern of candidates for university teaching posts as well, though "possibility of promotion" is was not among the items Aldwinckle (1999) suggested investigating when considering a university post. The avenue open to the employee depends upon university policies and practices related to promotion: from assistant (joshu) to lecturer/assistant professor (koushi), from lecturer to associate professor (jokyouju), and from associate to full professor (kyouju). In cases where irregular university employment has been (and continues to be) the norm for non-Japanese teaching faculty, promotion also depends upon familiarity with the institutional culture in which these policies and practices operate. Thus to invite a broad and hopefully illuminating examination of Japanese university promotion processes, this article offers a vignette on a particular case.
This case is that of a public university, for whom regulations dictate that no more than 50% of the teaching faculty may hold the rank of full professor. The crimp that prefectural regulation puts on advancement from associate professor upwards should be evident. In part, the rationale is economic. Yet when a new faculty goes on line, it must submit to Ministry of Education vetting of faculty members. Eminently-credentialed recruits add glitter to accreditation applications, so a particular new faculty or even the unversity as a whole could get professor top-heavy from lateral recruitment. Until numerous retirements pave the path to full professorhood, associate professors may sit on their rung of the ladder for years on end before space clears for their ascent.
However, between ranks within the lower reaches--assistant, lecturer and associate--the regulation limiting full professorships might not seem to be an impediment to promotion. That is, unless promotion decisions are the sole purvey of full professors. While faculty committees as a whole may formally enact criteria for promotion, it is only the full professors who sit on the personnel sub-committee within the faculty. Consequently, in a top-heavy faculty, decisions bearing upon individuals' professional careers are not deliberated by a committee of one's peers, but rather by one's superiors. Were criteria for promotion concise and their application consistent, one would hope that the process could bear scrutiny and the decision-makers could account for their decisions. Such hope (temporarily deflated) inspired the writing of this article.
Before leaping headlong into the vignette, I would like to provide some additional background to smooth the transition from general to specific and from approximately five years past to present.
Though promotion decision-making rests secure in professorial circles within each faculty, a cross-university steering committee had selected and proposed ranks for non-Japanese foreign language instructors prior to their affiliation to a distinct (new) faculty, which is by far the largest of three at this university. Confiding in four language teaching faculty members not long before his retirement (and promotion to professor emeritus), a steering committee chairperson discussed the ranks to which the four had been assigned. His recollection was that the committee had not referred to university-wide criteria for ranking and eligibility for promotion; rather, their ranks had largely been determined by age and a target distribution. The spread had been one professor, one associate and two lecturers. The 50+ year old candidate became the professor; the 40+, the associate; and the 30+s, lecturers by default.
Contrary to opinions aired on campus around the time of those appointments, promotion is not necessarily blocked under Monbushou supervision as a newly-accredited faculty. Faculty members had stated that during the probationary period there were to be no promotions. However, one year into the four-year probationary period, two assistants were promoted to lecturer in the new faculty. This happened, purportedly at Monbushou's suggestion, and bolstered the rank of lecturers; it seemed to require little more than a publication, committee approval and amended documentation for the ministry. Also during the probationary period, the faculty promoted a lecturer to associate professor subsequent to the lecturer's publication of a book.
Perhaps what best characterizes the avenue for promotion open to the Japanese members of faculty, who were promoted during the probationary period, is an unbroken chain from apprentice to master, leading towards, if not directly to, the president of the university. Research supervision, possibly mentorship, dating from undergraduate studies onward seems to be the norm for such protege of ranking professors (or of their colleagues at previous institutions) in each area of specialization. Likewise, the start of academic careers may, as often as not, be brokered by research directors serving as employment agents for their students.
The situation of language teaching faculty who are not Japanese could be distinguished by thinking, first of all, that language teaching does not qualify as an academic specialty. Even if it does, there are no traditional master/apprentice or professor/protege connections among the language instructors, who all earned post graduate degrees outside of Japan, and the professor who makes personnel decisions in this faculty. If the issues of specialization and possibly even cronyism are set aside, the outcomes for non-Japanese language instructors remains clear-cut; none have been promoted. Of the four language teaching faculty members who had been assigned recognized ranks, the full professor has been reassigned to another (reorganized) faculty currently under ministry supervision. The associate professor, seeing no promise in his PUK position, has moved laterally to a professorship elsewhere. That leaves only the two lecturers.
What follows is an account of a meeting one of those lecturers had recently with three top-ranking members of faculty. The meeting was called by the Dean in response to a formal written request for assessment that the lecturer had made in January 1999. This account explores but one facet of the promotion decision making and feedback process, from which generalizations should be drawn cautiously at best. The parties to the meeting go unnamed to avoid offending anyone involved. All of the parties to this denouement were male and thus are referred to by masculine pronouns.
The Dean called the meeting in his office in response to the lecturer's request for a written assessment of his application and qualifications for promotion to associate professor. In a terse memo, the Dean stated there would be a response to the lecturer's formal, written request. The lecturer had made that request in the interest of professional development (his own), and as an overture to transparency and accountability in policies at the university. He made the request after consulting not only with colleagues at the PUK, but also with a close Japanese associate at a national university regarding the "ins" and "outs" of promotion in Japanese universities and the ways to find out why his application for promotion had been turned down.
Two other professors, both university council members (大学評議会委員, daigaku hyougikaiiin) and faculty personnel committee members (教授会人事委員会委員, kyoujukai jinjiiinkaiiin), attended the meeting on February 9, apparently at the Dean's request. Though saying so here may spoil the ending, the lecturer excused himself from the meeting at 11:25, only 25 minutes in, after discussion had reached an impasse. What ensued is summarized here.
In short, the Dean would only refer to the university by-laws and insist that he and the faculty personnel committee, whose representatives were present (the two professors), were under no obligation except to report the result of committee deliberations regarding promotion which had been approved by the university council, whose representatives included the same two professors. For reference, the Dean displayed a single copy of the faculty's policy which was labeled "draft" (案). The Dean said he would not provide the written assessment the lecturer had requested. He also refused requests for permission to tape his remarks, though he said they were for the lecturer's understanding. In the end, the Dean even may have gone so far as to say that he would put his refusal to provide a recorded assessment in writing, but in the heat of the moment the lecturer decided to press no further on that issue.
In fact, the Dean gave no overt assessment of the lecturer's application or qualifications for promotion during the meeting. Nor did he contradict the statement he had made in private earlier that, following the new faculty guidelines (c. 1997), the personnel committee had counted the three years the lecturer had taught for this university as only one year of experience, and had therefore found someone more eligible for promotion. Perhaps he realized that the scripted tatemae he brought to the meeting on February 9, under the watchful eyes of two other professors, would never accomodate his previous, unscripted, honne remarks which the lecturer had included in the request for assessment.
At the onset of the meeting on February 9, the Dean asked why the lecturer had distributed his request for a written assessment to other members of the faculty. The lecturer responded that the purpose of distributing complimentary copies was to make the request for assessment known to his colleagues. The Dean then remarked that a letter addressed to a university Dean would not ordinarily be distributed in such a fashion. In retrospect, there seems to be nothing to suggest either that the situation was ordinary or that a protocol existed -- except perhaps that when a supervisor solicits an application for promotion from a faculty member, it could be deemed likely to be approved.(1)
When the Dean proceeded to read to the lecturer from another memo (which the Dean later said was to himself), the lecturer asked whether the Dean was going to provide the written assessment that the lecturer had requested. The Dean said he would not do so; furthermore, he would not allow the lecturer to read the script he read from, nor to have a copy of it. So this account depends upon the lecturer's recollection of the meeting conducted, as one might expect, in Japanese.
The Dean cited university by-laws governing promotion, revised not long ago by the faculty (2), which he said give the personnel committee authority to make promotion decisions "by rule of law." The wording in quotations is no interpretation; rather it is a phrase the Dean emphasized by iterating it in English. He concluded that the committee was under no obligation to communicate the basis for its decisions, except with regard to the minimum requirements listed in the university by-laws, which the Dean had previously said in private, had been met by both foreign language teaching lecturers. When asked again after he finished reading from his script, the Dean reconfirmed his refusal to provide a copy or a written assessment of the lecturer's application and qualifications for promotion.
In the ensuing discussion with the two other professors, the lecturer argued that the Dean's conclusion failed to serve the aims of professional development that had been espoused by the university as a whole. Nevertheless, neither of the professors were persuaded to offer advice regarding the strengths or weaknesses of the lecturer's application for promotion. Judging by outward appearances, all three professors were uncomfortable possibly with scripts, even if unwritten (proscriptions might be a more accurate description), to which they seemed obliged to adhere. Whenever they made even tangential references to criteria for promotion (number of publications, for instance) and the lecturer requested clarification or amplification, they declined further comment or withdrew their remarks. Faced with such a reluctance on the parts of the Dean and senior committee members to provide constructive feedback, the lecturer went on to point out that the faculty appeared only to be paying lip-service to the principles of transparency and accountability which have been bandied about in faculty and university-wide venues.
It is difficult to conclude on a positive note. Perhaps it will inspire a resolve to recall the words of someone not physically present at the meeting -- those of the governor. In his New Year's message to all prefectural employees, the governor advocated the principles of transparency and accountability in prefectural administration. University administrators may recently be heeding these principles. Since the February 9 meeting recounted above, there have been overtures from both sides of the professorial divide, which I shall not go into here. Should this continue and should further investigation come from different quarters, the events described above showing transparency and accountability (or lack of it) in promotion practices, may well become the last gasp of an old, obsolete system.
Aldwinckle, D. (1999). "The information necessary for an informed decision about a Japanese university employment position". Working paper presented to JALT Hita Hanami Retreat, March 26, 1999, Hita, Kyushu, Japan. To be published in JALT's The Language Teacher in 1999. (click here to read it)
(1) The lecturer learned of this protocol though a personal contact at a national university, not through his own experience.
(2) University-wide criteria for appointment or promotion to a particular rank (for example, minimum number of publications and years of service requirements), were made generic when university by-laws were revised in 1997. Each faculty has formulated its own criteria, or internal guidelines, which do not appear in the by-laws. In one of the faculties, the guidelines call for discounting the service years of foreign instructors, now called foreign language instructor, by two thirds. Applying a simple formula, three years of university teaching experience can be counted as one.
Paul A. Beaufait, like Daniel T. Kirk above, is a Sennin Koushiwith a three-year appointment at the Prefectural University of Kumamoto. Despite his five plus years of continuous employment at the PUK (plus three years as Gaikokujin Kyoushi at the older incarnation of PUK--Kumamoto Women's University), he too was recently passed over for promotion to Associate Professor (jokyouju) without a verbal or written explanation. His appointment, like Dan's, expires out on March 31, 2000, less than one year from now.
Publicizing A Case in Japan
Getting the Word Out:
Suggestions on How to Utilize the Media
By Kirk Masden, Kumamoto Gakuen University
In this brief essay, I will offer some comments on how the "Coalition Against Discrimination by the Prefectural University of Kumamoto" publicized its campaign. Locally, newspaper and television coverage were most important. On the national and international levels, we relied primarily on the Internet to disseminate information about our objectives and activities.
Local Newspaper and Television Coverage
In general, the movement received very good coverage in the local media. In the past year, at least eight articles related to the activities of the Kumamoto General Union or the Coalition have been published in the Kumamoto Nichinichi Shinbun ("The Kumamoto Daily"; hereafter referred to as "the Daily"). In addition, several local television news programs aired reports on the issue. Particularly good television coverage was provided in December of 1998 by a news magazine called "Viva," which is produced by RKK, a local station with historical connections to the Daily. Both the newspaper and television coverage put the Prefectural University of Kumamoto (PUK) on the defensive and helped win public sympathy and support.
According to Hanada Masanori, spokesperson for the Coalition and professor at Kumamoto Gakuen University, the coverage was far better than what might normally be expected in most regions of Japan. One reason our coverage was good is that the Daily is generally much more inclined to publish articles that are critical of the prefectural government than are most local newspapers. It is usually difficult for local newspapers to assume a critical stance toward the prefectural government because they depend upon government sources for news. Exactly why the Daily has been able to assume a more critical stance is not entirely clear to me at this writing, but surely its overwhelming strength in the local market is one important factor. As of January 1999, the Daily has a circulation of nearly 400,000 -- 63% of the market share. In a nation where national papers tend to dominate local papers, the Daily reigns supreme in Kumamoto.
Hanada also stressed the importance of support from influential Japanese citizens. Such support helped the movement gain credibility and communicate effectively with the media. Influential Japanese citizens can lend credibility to a movement in both formal and informal contexts. Formally, the presentation of a list of the names and occupations of prominent members of the community who have declared their support is a quick and highly-effective way of dispelling doubts about the seriousness of the matter. Informally, well-connected individuals can often use a brief conversation with reporters to convey the news worthiness of an issue or story. In our case, influential Japanese citizens played an important role in both senses. The Coalition was launched with a long list of sponsors, many of whom were lawyers, doctors, or university professors. These sponsors were actively recruited in order to strengthen the credibility of the Coalition. The informal support we received was more fortuitous. One individual, whose circumstances made formal affiliation with the Coalition difficult, seems to have used his/her various personal connections to encourage key decision makers in the local media to cover the issue. Such informal support is difficult to secure because it is difficult to know who has the key connections and how (or if) they would actually use them. On the other hand, the larger the base of formal sponsors the more likely it becomes that informal networks will work to the benefit of the cause at hand.
In order to explain why the support of Japanese individuals is helpful in facilitating communication with the media I should first explain what makes such communication difficult. Reporters must gather and disseminate information quickly. Accordingly, it is important to "teach" them the key elements of an issue as quickly as possible. The more complex the issue, the more difficult this becomes. In the PUK case, for example, the distinction between part-time (hijoukin), part-time-special-irregular (hijoukin tokubetsu shokutaku), and full-time (joukin) positions is key but was at first as unfamiliar to the reporters as it had been to the foreign staff when they first encountered it. A reporter's failure to understand the importance of this distinction probably led to the portrayal of the our position as a complaint about the part-time (hijoukin) employment of foreigners in an article published in the Daily on October 1 of 1998 (article title: "Hijoukin keiyaku koushin sezu"). Readers of this article must have wondered why it is discriminatory to employ foreigners on a part-time basis when many Japanese teaching staff are also employed part-time. Without an explanation of the part-time-special-irregular status, which is reserved solely for foreign staff and is designed to allow the university to obtain full-time work while only providing part-time security, the claim of the Union seemed frivolous. (The problem was compounded by the fact that the newspapers misleading summary of the Union's position was put in quotation marks, as though a representative of the Union spoke these very words. According to one reporter at the Daily, it is common practice to place paraphrases and summaries in quotation marks to make them stand out for the reader.)
Guiding reporters, most of whom know little about the inner workings of a university, to a clear understanding of the nature of "part-time-special-irregular" status requires not only a good command of the Japanese language, but also insight into what is likely to confuse a reporter, and what metaphors or analogies will help convey the idea quickly. Highly-fluent non-native speakers may successfully communicate the same ideas but native speakers are likely to be able to get such points across more quickly. This is not to say, however, that the principals can afford to be silent and rely entirely on Japanese spokespeople. There is no guarantee that such help will be available when a reporter happens to stop by and, especially in the case of television, there will always be requests for comments from the people at the heart of the controversy. Accordingly, it is important for all concerned to rehearse their arguments in preparation for media exposure. In particular, great attention should be given to the preparation of "sound bites" that encapsulate key points. Once prepared, these sound bites should be used repeatedly when talking to the media.
The amount of coverage one gets will depend in part on the number of reportable events one offers to the media. Here are some examples of events covered by the Daily:
|EVENT||DATE OF ARTICLE|
|Strike||June 25, 1998|
|Initiation of mediation||December 8, 1998|
|Symposium||December 13, 1998|
|Signature Gathering||December 28, 1998|
|Visit to Monbushou||February 19, 1999|
|Concert||March 7, 1999|
|Mediation result||March 31, 1999|
In addition, events such as press conferences,the formal submission of statements and appeals, announcements of important events to come (e.g. the strike) have also led to the publication of articles.
The media should be notified of events well in advance, preferably in writing. The letter, or press release, may be sent to individual newspapers, or to a kisha kurabu (press club), or both. It should explain clearly what is to occur, when, where, why it is important, and who can be contacted for more information. In explaining the importance of the event, one might point out why the event or issue should be of interest to readers, how it relates to other issues, if the issue has been under reported, etc. Calling the reporter before sending the press release and/or after it has been sent may help insure that it is duly noted and understood. However, telephone calls should be kept to a minimum as reporters are usually very busy and may be irritated by frequent interruptions. (This paragraph summarizes advice given by Charles Burress of the San Francisco Chronicle in a private email.)
At this writing, with the important exception of one prominent article and photograph in the Japan Times (June 20, 1998), we have not received coverage in a national or international newspaper. In regard to national Japanese papers, we have not yet made a substantial effort to get their attention -- not because we do not consider them to be important, but because we have been overwhelmed with other activities. We have contacted key figures in the New York Times and Washington Post and received encouraging responses, but at this writing neither contact has resulted in a published article. To date, the Internet has been the primary tool we have used to get word of our cause to people outside the Kumamoto area.
Use of the Internet
We have used two functions of the Internet extensively: e-mail and a website. In the initial stage of the movement (late 1998) e-mail was used to disseminate a request for support. English and Japanese versions of the request were prepared and sent to the following mailing lists (among others):
JAFSA http://www.vcom.or.jp/project/international/JAFSA/J/MSIG/web ml.html
Fukuzawa-j (now defunct) http://luna1.osaka-gaidai.ac.jp/~sugita/dfsj.htm
Dead Fukuzawa Society http://www.twics.com/~briank/dfs.html
There are many more mailing lists to which information might have been sent. Information on such lists may be obtained at the following sites:
We included a sentence in our e-mail reports and requests that encouraged recipients to forward the message to other people they thought might be interested, or to other mailing lists for which they deemed our message appropriate. Indeed, several of the messages of support we received were from people who had gotten our e-mail through an intermediary. (Note: It is important to observe proper netiquette in disseminating information. Failure to do so is inconsiderate, unethical and counterproductive.)
Our use of mailing lists resulted in many messages of support from all over the world. This helped fortify our list of sponsors and allowed us to underscore the credibility of our cause by citing the number of countries from which we had received messages. Surely, knowledge of this international support must have intensified the pressure felt by the leaders of PUK.
Ideally, e-mail campaigns should be augmented by a website which provides detailed information in a neatly organized format. To avoid accusations of impropriety, we set our site up on a commercial server rather than one associated with a university. The site consists of both English and Japanese components. It is not, however, a truly bilingual site; only the most important material has been translated and presented in both Japanese and English. The majority of the material is available in only one of the two languages. This is the natural result of placing material (whether in Japanese or English) on the site as it became available. Attempts to set up parallel English and Japanese sites are likely to stagnate unless one can devote a great deal of time and energy to translation. Very little has been written specifically for our website. At this writing, most of the material on it was originally prepared for some other purpose and then placed on the site to make it available to a wider audience. To date, for example, three issues of the Coalition News (in Japanese) have been put out in paper form and two are on the website. This newsletter has formed the backbone of the Japanese homepage. Unfortunately, however, it has been difficult to prepare the newsletter for placement on the website. The problem is that the newsletter has been prepared on an older computer that cannot send or receive e-mail and uses a floppy disk format that is incompatible with most modern PCs. Accordingly, each newsletter has had to be scanned and then carefully checked for scanning errors. Much time and effort could have been saved if the newsletter had been prepared on a computer connected to the Internet. This would have allowed text to be sent via e-mail and then quickly prepared for placement on the website.
In general, it is highly advisable that all persons associated with the movement use e-mail regularly and prepare all documents related to the movement on a computer. One advantage of utilizing computers in this way is that makes it possible to keep a detailed public record of the movement on the website with relatively little energy. (Note: Access to a scanner, however, will continue to be important because documents received from the university or a mediating body will be in paper form and thus require scanning.) Another advantage is that e-mail can help to improve communication between participants in the movement. This is particularly true if participants develop the habit of sending copies of the messages to others in the movement. This keeps others abreast of the latest developments. It can also help participants spot internal differences of opinion or issues that require more careful discussion to maintain the coherence of the group.
One problem with websites is that they are passive: unless someone takes the trouble to come look at them, their information will not be utilized. For this reason, after major revisions we send notices to the various newsgroups mentioned above. This has been fairly effective, but I think that it is also important to set up a page on the site that explains how to subscribe to receive e-mail updates on the progress of the movement. This insures that individuals with the strongest interest in the movement are kept informed.
Kirk Masden is a tenured assistant professor at Kumamoto Gakuen University, and manager of the homepage on the case of the Prefectural University of Kumamoto (http://www.gorogoro.co.jp/kendai/)
An In-Depth Look at Rallying and Measuring Community Support
Petitioning the Japanese Public
By David C. Aldwinckle, Hokkaido Information University
One sees them on Japan's streetcorners, where the sidewalks are swollen with currents of crowd. Usually they are disheveled fringe-element folks, wearing oodles of clothes with not a whit of fashion sense. Unlike many of the Western canvassers, sundry panhandlers, and other gauntlets of aggressive strangers that have no connection with you yet want your attention, Japan's version is more tame and shamed-looking, as they, eyes down, quietly hold out a pamphlet in one hand in hopes that you will read it, and a pen in the other hand in hopes that you will use it. These are the Petitioners in Japan, and I react to them here like I do anywhere--shy away and pretend they don't exist. For after all, what on earth would these radicals do with my signature? I stride on untouched and, should a flash of curiosity occur, snatch up one of their pamphlets further down the road, tossed aside by some other devil-may-care who had foolishly taken the bait. Then I smile: I have never been hooked. I'm too smart for that.
Suddenly came the day when I was in the same boat. Last winter I became a Petitioner myself. This essay is a firsthand account of how to ask the silent majority of Japanese to take a side, and about the obstacles to overcome, both personal and public, when asking perfect strangers to support your cause in writing.
Date: Sunday, January 31, 1999. 2:00 - 5:00 PM.
Port of Call: Shimotoori Shoutengai Shopping Area, Kumamoto City, Kyushu
The Kumamoto General Union set up a makeshift headquarters in a highly-visible area: an enclosed arcade in Kumamoto's spiffiest shopping zone, where the street was ten meters wide and reserved for pedestrians. The equipment we used was simple: two folding tables for documentation should anyone want to stop by, six folding chairs for people to park their kiesters, and a banner, about two meters high and wide, lashed to two of the chairs. It read, in hand-brushed ink:
"Kenritsudai no gaikokujin kyouin o mamorou!"
("Protect Foreign Faculty at The Prefectural University of Kumamoto!")
proclaiming what we wanted. Now it was time to go get it.
We suited up ready to cast our nets. We put on "sandwich-man"placards, bearing slogans on our breast and back, poignant even to the casual glancer. Keeping the bodice signs company was a strange contraption--a piece of plywood with holes cut into the corners of one end. Through them a rope was threaded, tied to each corner, and looped around our neck. Resting the unholed end of the plywood onto our belts, presto!, we had a makeshift "signing table" jutting from our guts like a lowered drawbridge. To be honest, I was intrigued by this system: a signing table was better than clipboard thrusting (tables meant more storage space for additional documents and no creep clearing off with your clipboard), but the disadvantage was that signatories would have to crouch in front of you, simultaneously overcoming an uncomfortable infringement upon personal space as well as a latent disinclination towards signing.
One signing table later, we were shipshape--about a dozen people ready to troll and canvass. We were then handed copies of the "appeal" (yobikake 呼掛け--literally "a calling out", a much less formal way of saying "petition" (tangan 嘆願 or seigan 請願)), which read in Japanese:
(NB: The Appeal is long, but for the record it is important to include verbatim--to show potential Petitioners exactly how a successful yobikake is written.)
URGENT APPEAL FOR SUPPORT
Concerning the Foreign Teachers at the Prefectural University of Kumamoto, Kumamoto, Japan
On October 2, 1998, six of the foreign teachers at the Prefectural University of Kumamoto received notice that they would not be employed from the end of the current academic year. This is the latest dramatic turn in the five-year struggle against discrimination against foreign teachers at the university. Unlike their Japanese colleagues, the foreign teachers have strictly limited terms of employment. In spite of this, the prefecture embraces slogans like "A gentler, kinder Kumamoto -- Let's make a discrimination-free community". We urge the prefecture to practice what it preaches.
In 1993, the former Kumamoto Women's University began recruiting greater numbers of foreign teachers as part of its transformation into the new Prefectural University of Kumamoto. All the teachers signed Acceptance of Appointment documents (shuunin shoudakusho) issued by the Governor of Kumamoto for submission to the Ministry of Education clearly stating that the positions were full-time. When the new university began in 1994, however, the foreign teachers were not offered contracts which were in accord with the documents they had signed. Instead of receiving the full-time contracts they had expected, four of the teachers were given "special, irregular, temporary/part-time" contracts (tokubetsu shokutaku hijoukin gaikokujin kyoushi). The remaining five foreign teachers were employed as "regular, general public employees" (joukin ippan koumuin) but were given three-year term appointments. In contrast, the Japanese full-time teachers, without exception, are all employed without term limits.
Only the foreign teachers have term limits, one year or three year. Further, the teachers on one-year contracts receive no bonus, are not eligible for promotion, and are denied other benefits.
The four teachers who were denied "regular" posts asked for the full-time contracts they had agreed to and signed in the Acceptance of Appointment documents. They refused to sign the contracts for "irregular" employment and persisted in their refusal over the next four years. Together with most of their "three-year" foreign colleagues, they continued to ask for the elimination of term limits, which applied only to foreign teachers. During this period, four more foreign full-time teachers were employed, and like their predecessors, they, too, were given "irregular" contracts.
These "irregular, temporary/part-time" teachers are not the usual part-time lecturers who are paid by the hour; they work full-time, engage in research, and are responsible for entrance examinations (writing examination questions, grading, and interviewing), among other administrative duties. Nor are they the kind of temporary workers often employed on "irregular" contracts. All of the dismissed teachers are at least in their fourth year at the university and one has worked there for eight years.
In 1997, faced with increasingly onerous contract renewal processes and acting upon legal advice, the foreign teachers formed the Kumamoto General Union, affiliated to the National Union of General Workers, National Council. The union asked the university to employ all full-time teachers the same regardless of nationality. Formal negotiations began in October 1997. The university, however, rejected all claims at each of the five negotiation sessions saying only that its employment practices were "appropriate" for teachers who were native speakers of English, and that the university does not practice discrimination. In January 1998, although negotiations were underway, the university unilaterally imposed worse contracts on the "irregular" teachers. Finally, in February 1998, the president of the university refused to discuss the new contracts and abandoned negotiations.
In the face of the continuing refusal of the university to discuss the contracts, the teachers belonging to the union held a one-day strike and Human Rights Rally on June 24, 1998, calling for a resumption of negotiations and an end to discrimination based on nationality. The Rally drew more than 100 people, including concerned citizens, supporters from other universities, regional NGOs, students, and union activists from all parts of Japan.
By that time, the university had already launched a review of foreign language education. The new curriculum would entail reducing the number of English classes offered and increasing the size of some classes from 25 to 40 students. These changes will make it more difficult for students to learn communicative English and will leave them ill-prepared to participate in a global community where English, the language of technology and business, is the medium of international communication.
The insistence by the one-year foreign teachers that they should be employed as full-time faculty members has been justified by documents recently obtained from Kumamoto Prefecture. The documents show clearly that in 1993 the university reported to the Ministry of Education that it was employing ALL its foreign teachers as full-time faculty members with the rank of professor, associate professor, or lecturer (assistant professor). While informing the Ministry that it was employing its teachers as full-time lecturers, the university was in fact employing some of them on part-time contracts. This practice, the educational equivalent of keeping double books to falsify accounts, cannot be condoned.
We view the situation at the Prefectural University of Kumamoto with profound concern. The employment of full-time teachers as "special, irregular, temporary/part-time" teachers is inappropriate and irregular. It is plain the university has been using nationality as a criterion for employment. It is the sole factor determining whether to impose term limits. Only and all foreign teachers are appointed with term limits. We believe this is discriminatory. The discrimination has been compounded by the failure of both the prefecture and the university to honor its own promises to employ the foreign teachers as full-time lecturers. With its decision to dismiss the six teaches on the "irregular" contracts, the university has found a vindictive and arbitrary way of dealing with the problem. It punishes teachers whose only offense has been to speak out against an unfair system.
The dismissal of the Kumamoto teachers is a fate that has been experienced by many other foreign teachers working in Japanese universities, especially in the public sector. While growing numbers of universities now offer fair employment regardless of nationality, most of the hundreds of foreign teachers are still at constant risk of losing not only their jobs, but in may cases, their visa status as well.
We urge the Prefectural University of Kumamoto and Kumamoto Prefecture to recognize the importance of eliminating systemic unfair treatment by reinstating the dismissed teachers and employing them on the same basis as their Japanese colleagues. This would truly set an example of how a "discrimination-free community" can be achieved.
Sponsors -- Masazumi Harada, Associate Professor, Faculty of Medicine, Kumamoto University -- Takashi Miyakita, Lecturer, Faculty of Medicine, Kumamoto University -- Masanori Hanada, Professor, Faculty of Social Welfare, Kumamoto Gakuen University -- Nobuo Matsuno, Lawyer, Kumamoto -- Tadahiko Hanee, Professor, Kumamoto Gakuen University -- Akihiko Uno, Doctor, Kumamoto -- Yoko Kawasaki, Former City Councilor, Kumamoto -- Yutaka Komatsu, Associate Professor, Faculty of Literature, Kumamoto University -- Kiyoshi Fukuzawa, Associate Professor, Faculty of Literature, Kumamoto University -- Takaaki Ikai, Professor, Faculty of Literature, Osaka University -- Hideo Totsuka, Professor Emeritus, Tokyo University -- Yong-Dal Soh, Professor, Graduate School, Momoyama Gakuin University -- Akio Kondo, Professor, Faculty of Law, Chuo University -- Masahiro Asada, Professor, Department of Economics, Asahikawa University -- Kirk Masden, Head of the Institute of Foreign Affairs, Kumamoto Gakuen University -- Joseph Tomei, Assistant Professor, Faculty of Foreign Languages, Kumamoto Gakuen -- Taku Fukuda, Lawyer, Tokyo -- Akio Sugeno, Lawyer, Ishikawa -- Kunio Aitani, Lawyer, Tokyo -- Ken Yoshida, Lawyer, Tokyo -- Toshiro Ueyanagi, Lawyer, Tokyo -- Masatoshi Uchida, Lawyer, Tokyo -- Aoi Teraoka, Doctor, Kumamoto -- Kazuko Osume, Editor, Kumamoto -- Hideki Yamaguchi, Doctor, Kumamoto -- Takafumi Kimura, Doctor, Kumamoto -- Shigekatsu Semba, Lawyer, Kumamoto -- Akira Tatebe, Lawyer, Kumamoto -- Kazuko Tajiri, Lawyer, Kumamoto -- Toshihiro Higashi, Lawyer, Kumamoto -- Yoko Kuroiwa, Lawyer, Tokyo -- Hiroyuki Abe, Lawyer, Tokyo -- Yasushi Saito, Assoc. Professor, Literature Faculty, Kumamoto University -- Hidenaga Arai, Assoc. Professor, Literature Faculty, Kumamoto University -- Yasuaki Murasato, Lecturer, Education Faculty, Kumamoto University -- Shigemi Satomi, Assoc. Professor, Literature Faculty, Kumamoto University -- Shirou Ikeda, Assoc. Professor, Education Faculty, Kumamoto University -- Emiko Shibayama, Critic, former Professor, Nagoya Municipal Women's Jr. College
.....and over 6000 more Signatories
(Japanese version and more supporters available at http://www.gorogoro.co.jp/kendai/shomei.html)
Two reasons about why this Appeal worked:
1) The above "Sponsors" (as opposed to "Signatories") were lobbied and mentioned because they were all high-profile, upstanding, and notably apolitical members of the community; for example, Dr Harada Masuzumi, the first name on the list, was the scientist who linked mercury poisoning to Minamata Disease. Anybody is welcome to become a Signatory, of course, but well-known doctors, lawyers, and professors were preferable as Sponsors--they lended legitimacy without political overtones; conversely, people like union leaders, politicians, or hot-issue raisers might alienate potential supporters.
2) Nowhere in this Appeal are the signatures of the plaintiffs included; this was in order to keep the Appellants looking like neutral third-parties, fellow members of the community, with no difference between canvasser and canvassed. A yobikake was a crie du coeur, not a political rally.
In addition, the Appeal was compact, processible (one page A4, with a column at the bottom for an easily-countable ten Signatories to add their names and addresses), and substantiated. For those who had not been watching the local news over the past year, our signing tables bore not only a stack of briefings (as skimmable summaries of the issue), but also incontrovertable evidence: photocopied clippings from the newspaper (the power of the media is immense in Japan--once published, twice read). Thus, all the necessary information was powerfully marshalled and ready to be dispersed.
We were then cut adrift and told to get networking, but for me there was a snag. As I said, I had never done anything like this before, so I spent the first hour watching others and developing a style. I soon saw that, like eating spaghetti or fishing a river, everyone had their own way:
Dan and Paul mingled with the crowd far upstream. Paul told me that he was very forward with casting the briefings at people, and they generally took them even if they didn't sign. A moderate number of people then came back to him personally after reading, but no doubt by the time recipients had reached the information table downstream, they would make a decision whether or not to lend their name. Dan and Paul probably gave us the most bites through assists.
Farrell and Alan Rosen, tall (6 foot 4) but elderly-looking with very unthreatening demeanors, floated around the information table chatting with people who wanted the skinny. They got loads of bites because they attracted the truly inquisitive, people who just needed that one little nudge--the face-to-face meeting with an actual victim--to take the bait.
Cynthia and the other (Japanese) women volunteers also bobbed about the information table being sunny and alluring. Turns out they would lure the largest number of signatures of all.
And there I was, dasai in a worn-out bright red jacket with faded blue jeans, looking as broad-shouldered and topheavy-gawky (I was wearing many layers--it gets cold just standing out there) as Warren Beatty's nerdy character in ISHTAR, floundering around trying not to look like a berk. I held out an information pamphlet in one hand, a pen in the other, and kept asking for signatures with a smile: "Shoumei o itadakemasen ka?"
It wasn't working. I got no bites at all the first hour because people were doing as I always did: shying away and pretending I wasn't there. "Shoumei o itadakemasen ka?"
Eventually one of our volunteers, Sachiko-san, took pity on me and said:
"It's not shoumei (証明). Signature is shomei (署名).You might stop asking people to 'prove' themselves."
Duh. Live and learn. And learn I did. As the Japanese unionists in our group got into a rhythm, the dynamic of the demonstration generated new energy. The person with the most experience in these sorts of activities, Mr Ohtsuka Mitsunobu, member of the Kumamoto Prefectural Schools Labor Administration Union (Kumamoto-ken Gakkou Jimu Roudou Kumiai), was instumental in dealing with the unexpected. We had a few bored and slightly fishy-looking strangers coming up and asking if they could be of service, and we couldn't very well throw them back; he gave them some pamphlets to chum the waters with. In addition, Ms Hirano Midori, an elected representative in the Kumamoto Prefectural Assembly (Kumamoto-ken gikaiin), came by to lend us far greater stage presence. As a politician and a wheelchair user, she holds rallies for the handicapped about once a month, and that day lent her practiced public-speaking-Japanese to a megaphone for us. She brought along other members of the handicapped community who wheeled more petitions out. Although the initial reaction from the public was to shy back at the newfound sound, once they had assimilated the constant barrage of information into their perception of background noise, they redoubled their efforts to stop by and sign.
And there I stood, at the prow of the good ship "General Union" as it cut through the streams of passersby, feeling like an icebreaker. Even if they didn't stop by me, I was hopefully softening up the crowds with a foreign face, dividing them into eddies of people passing by as undertow, whirlpools of onlookers, or else the catch of the day--propelled into the engines of the dynamic, signing, and sent on their merry way. All this was pushing our vessel one knot closer to its destination.
LESSONS I LEARNED ON HOW TO HOOK 'EM
(admittedly, after a single three-hour experience)
1) IF YOU WANT THEM TO TAKE, YOU GOTTA OFFER.
Ever notice how the people who hand out the tissues or bargain coupons for girlie clubs simply dangle them in front of your hand with a brisk "yoroshiku"? Sort of like Harpo Marx sidling up to a lady and getting her to grab his uplifted leg. A natural human reaction to an intrusion of space is a raised hand in defense; getting that hand to grasp is the pro's job. So don't just expect them to come up to you and ask for what you got. Hold out your hand and put something in it. I stood there extending a pen in one hand and an outstretched flyer in the other, and after a while the rhythm came.
2) DON'T LOOK ASHAMED. BE SUNNY WITH EYE CONTACT.
My way was to be unobtrusive and unpersistant (meaning I never followed anybody, never thrust the papers), but still I was always receptive and gregarious. I would look at people in general as they walked past, at somebody in specific if eye contact was made, and at at nobody afterwards--averting my glance if they averted theirs. When asking for cooperation, I would never expect an answer, and would talk to nobody in particular unless they came of their own accord. They had to WANT to be hypnotized, was my creed, but for hypnosis to occur eye contact is necessary. Think of the alternative: One off-putting trait of Japanese Petitioners was how guilty they look--like the child beggars I saw in Dublin who, by keeping their eyes down and their hands out, evoked more evasiveness and invasiveness than pity. But in my face and eyes I showed no guilt. Only pride--the pride I felt by being associated with this activity. I brought out the Hollywood smile when I had an eye--reducing it down to a grin when in neutral mode--so I looked happy at all times. For by design, you are always highly visible, so keep the faith and the face no matter what.
3) UNDERSTAND THAT THERE ARE JUST CERTAIN TYPES OF PEOPLE WHO ARE MORE COMFORTABLE
WITH CERTAIN TYPES OF PEOPLE.
Never get disconcerted if people aren't signing with you. Strangers are, and have every right to be, choosey about whom they wish to associate with. Some people prefer to chat with the women, some with the authoritative-looking, some with the necktied, some with Japanese rather than foreigners. You will not fit everyone's bill--ehich is why you must get as many varieties of people involved in the appeal as possible. As for me, my nerdy-Warren-Beatty seemed to appeal best to middle-aged men, although just about every slice of life--the dapper ojisan who would use only his own fountain pen, the shopping-bagged obatarian troupe who wanted as many details up front as possible, crew-cut high schoolers in uniform doing this on a mutual dare, a couple of London-Paris-eyed lunatic-fringers, a wholesome-looking family who signed their children's names too, and even a gaggle of miniskirted Namuro Amie wannabes--came up to me and put ballpoint to paper.
The best experience was when a bedraggled rag-picker in his forties zoomed up to me on his boneshaker of a bicycle and grabbed me by a filthy hand, nearly spinning me around. "Ganbatte!" he screamed, "Keep going. You are doing the right thing." He gave me an unforgettably supportive look and a smile more genuine than anything I have seen in Japan. He carried on without signing. Didn't matter. He, clearly aware of the difficulties and sympathetic towards even foreign members of his community, had given me more momentum than a single name on the record would have.
At ten minutes to five, we started reeling in the lobster pots, and the volunteers began counting our catch. We then took a quick photograph of the group, thanked all our comers for their assistance, and set about packing up at 4:59 pm. To be honest, I felt this style of closure a bit abrupt--we had really just gotten into a groove, there was still about an hour of daylight left, the crowds were not yet thinning, and I still wanted to test my newfound profound people power theories. But Mr Ohtsuka, seasoned veteran of Japanese-style social movements, made it clear that schedules must be followed or else.
For in Japan, much to my surprise, one had better clear a public activity with the State beforehand, even if it is only a minor activity. For not only had Mr Ohtsuka told the Shoutengai's business association that they would be in front of their stores, he had actually applied for a permit from the Kumamoto City Police Station (Kumamotoshi Keisatsu Sho). To receive permission for gaitou shomei katsudou (Street Signature Activities), he had to explain exactly when and where and what would be happening. Permission granted, but our permit said from two to five pm that day, no extensions. If we overstayed our welcome we might find it difficult to secure a permit next time, and that's when unofficial harassment comes in. I found this all too authoritarian for my Yankee-bred sensitivities towards freedom of assembly; for although permits may prevent radicals from going overboard and fomenting twenty-four hours of trouble, the fact is that in Japan, the government regulates public expression of social discontent.
That day alone we received over 600 signatures. And how many of those fish were mine? Five full pages' worth. Meaning, uh, fifty people (including my and my wife's names)--below average. So much for my theories of successful solicitation. Still, I rationalized, it was fifty names more to the total of 6000+ so far, which will always remain in the Kumamoto General Union records.
One of these days, if and when it becomes necessary to prove something, volunteers will retype all the names onto separate sheets of paper and submit them to the prefectural government. What the government would do with that information is unclear (probably archive it for five years and throw it away, our lawyers say). But as far as the union, the press, and the talking heads are concerned, this Appeal clearly indicates the degree of popular support gleaned through the publicizing of this case.
And the next time I see Petitioners on a streetcorner, I will no longer just disrespectfully swim by.
David C. Aldwinckle is a tenured assistant professor at Hokkaido Information University and the editor of the PALE Journal. He has written numerous essays on the situation of educators in Japan, all of which may be accessed at http://www.debito.org/activistspage.html#ninkisei. His most ambitious project to date, creating an information site on institutions that systematically discriminate against foreign faculty, may be found at http://www.debito.org/blacklist.html --"The Blacklist of Japanese Universities".
The View of this Case From Tokyo
Notes from the visit to the Ministry of Education (Monbushou)
by a delegation of National Union of General Workers officials, teachers from the
Prefectural University of Kumamoto, and a representative of the Prefectural University
of Kumamoto Foreign Teachers Support Group.
By Farrell Cleary, Prefectural University of Kumamoto
On 18 February 1999, Ministry of Education officials met with a delegation concerned with the situation of foreign teaching staff at the Prefectural University of Kumamoto (PUK). The delegation consisted of three of the PUK foreign teaching staff, (some of whom are members of the Kumamoto General Union), a representative of the PUK Foreign Teachers Support Group, Professor Hanada Masanori, three officials of the National Union of General Workers (NUGW, or 全国一般労働組合), and Mr. Hamada Kenichi, a Social Democratic Member of the Lower House of Parliament from Kagoshima.
Prior to the meeting, Mr. Hamada had submitted to Monbushou a list of questions concerning the situation at the PUK prepared by Professor Hanada. The questions are all dealt with in the following notes so will not be reprinted here.
Monbushou was represented by Mr. Shimizu Kiyoshi, the head of the University Division, and by Mr. Arimatsu, the deputy head of the University Establishment Office (大学設置事務室/daigaku setchi jimu shitsu). These notes are a summary of a meeting that lasted for more than an hour. The chronological sequence of the discussion has been slightly altered for better understanding.
Mr. Shimizu began by giving a verbal response to Mr. Hamada's questions. He described the categories of foreign teaching staff in Japanese universities. He said the 1982 kokuritsu mata wa kouritsu daigaku ni okeru gaikokujin kyouin no ninyou tou ni kansuru tokubetsu sochi hou (Special Provisory Law for Employment of Foreigners in National and Public Universities) allowed for the imposition of term limits on foreign teachers. Such limits ensured the "rotation" of foreign teaching staff which Monbushou saw as desirable. He referred to a recent law which allowed for the imposition of term limits on Japanese teaching staff too. In both laws the decision as to whether to impose term limits was left to each university.
As far as private and regional public universities (i.e prefectural and municipal) were concerned, Monbushou gave no guidance regarding the decision as to whether to impose term limits on foreign teaching staff. He said that 80% of the foreign teachers in national universities had term limits to their employment while the figure for regional public universities was 40%.
In regional public universities there were three categories of people employed under section 3, subsection 3 of the chihou koumuin hou (Regional Public Servants Law):
a) gaikokujin kyoushi (foreign instructors),
b) shokutakuin (irregular employees, e.g. administrative assistants and library employees) and
c) hijoukin koushi (part time teachers, i.e. those paid by the class and not receiving a regular salary like the gaikokujin kyoushi).
Mr. Arimatsu outlined the process through which new universities and new faculties obtained ministerial approval. He said all of the PUK foreign English teaching staff had been approved as sennin koushi (full-time lecturers) (Note: following Commonwealth usage, Koushi is translated as lecturer rather than as assistant professor), jokyouju (associate professor) or kyouju (full professor). Their kenkyuu gyouseki (research records) had been assessed by Monbushou and had been judged adequate for the courses they were to teach.
Monbushou had not known that four of those reported as sennin koushi had in fact been given hijoukin tokubetsu shokutaku (part-time, special irregular) appointments while the other foreign teaching staff had been given joukin (full-time/regular) appointments. Monbushou had not asked for details about the way the foreign teaching staff had been employed. Mr Arimatsu said it might be possible for those employed as hijoukin (part-time) to satisfy the requirements for sennin (full-time) employment.
Professor Hanada asked about the shuunin shoudakusho (Letters of Acceptance of Appointment) signed by the foreign teachers in 1993. He asked if there was not a contradiction between the full-time staff (sennin no kyouin) appointments mentioned in those letters and the actual appointments as part-time, special irregular gaikokujin kyoushi. Mr. Arimatsu said that he could not say that there was no contradiction.
Mr. Arimatsu showed the delegation the Letters of Acceptance of Appointment signed by the foreign staff in 1993. Signed English versions were included alongside the Japanese language versions for a number of the teachers.
Mr. Arimatsu said that during the four-year period of Monbushou supervision of the new Administration Studies Faculty at the PUK, the Ministry had had no knowledge that the foreign teaching staff had been employed under the Regional Public Servants Law.
Professor Hanada asked, "Is it acceptable that there should be such a contradiction between the reported terms of employment and the actual terms of employment?"
To which Arimatsu replied, "Please let us investigate this matter. We will call [prefectural and university officials] and investigate."
Professor Hanada explained the extent of the duties of the gaikokujin kyoushi at the PUK and showed the officials the Confirmation of Terms of Appointment given to the gaikokujin kyoushi listing various obligations such as the setting and marking of university entrance examinations. He asked, "Isn't it strange that people with such responsibilities should be given part-time contracts?"
In response to a union question, Mr Arimatsu agreed that it would be natural for foreign teachers who had accepted employment as sennin no kyouin to expect joukin (regular/full-time) employment. He said that the Ministry had not seen the Confirmation of Employment Terms given to the PUK gaikokujin kyoushi in April 1994.
On being told that the gaikokujin kyoushi had refused to sign the Employment Terms, he said the Ministry had not known of that disagreement, nor of the 1995 document signed by both the gaikokujin kyoushi and the President of the University which outlined the points of disagreement.
Professor Hanada further informed the Ministry officials that the university was counting the years of service of the gaikokujin kyoushi at one third of their value, i.e. three years of service was being counted as one year. This meant that positions which were reported to Monbushou as "full-time" were being counted in the same way as "part-time" positions, being paid by the hour and involving no more than two or four hours teaching per week.
Professor Hanada pointed out that foreign teaching staff at the university had been asking since 1993 for a move to employment conditions which matched the ministerial standards for sennin (full-time) staff. The university's response had been to announce it was not renewing the contracts of its six staff working as gaikokujin kyoushi and that they would be no more than candidates for three joukin (regular/full-time) posts being created from April 1999. Employment rights were not being respected.
Professor Hanada then asked about the advertisements for new full-time posts at the PUK. The advertisements were for three teachers of koushi or jokyouju rank and specified that if foreign applicants were employed, they would be given three-year term limits.
Mr. Shimizu said that the imposition of such limits was a matter for each university and that Monbushou gave no guidance with regard to such limits. He denied that such limits were discriminatory since they were allowed for by the aforementioned 1982 law.
At this point, Mr. Endo, General Secretary of the NUGW, pointed out that the limits could be discriminatory even though not in breach of the 1982 law. Just because an action did not breach one law did not mean that it could not be in breach of another law.
Mr. Shimizu said that until 1982 it had been impossible to employ foreign teaching staff in public universities in the same way as Japanese staff on regular, full-time contracts. The 1982 law had created an opening for foreign staff which should be viewed positively.
Professor Hanada said that many years had passed since 1982. He asked, "Isn't it time to move forward beyond that opening made by the 1982 law?"
Mr. Shimizu replied that the next step would be the imposition of term-limits on Japanese teaching staff as well as foreign staff. There would be various patterns of employment for all teaching staff as there were in the U.S., where three- or four-year contracts were standard for anyone below the rank of associate professor.
Mr. Arimatsu was asked about changes to the English curriculum at the PUK which involved increased class sizes for Administration Studies Faculty students. He said that once the four-year period of Monbushou supervision had been passed, only radical changes in curricula would justify Ministry intervention since faculty autonomy had to be respected.
Sequel to the Delegation's Visit
Prefectural University of Kumamoto officials visited Monbushou the following week. A story in the Kumamoto Nichi Nichi Shinbun (25 February 1999) reported that Ministry officials had summoned university and prefectural officials and asked them about the employment conditions of teaching staff employed as gaikokujin kyoushi.
The university and prefectural officials had said that they had thought that the employment of the teaching staff under the Local Public Officials Act (i.e. as "part-time, special, irregular" staff) had not been inconsistent with reporting them as sennin koushi (full-time lecturers).
A Monbushou spokesman said after hearing the details of the employment terms of the gaikokujin kyoushi that these terms did not satisfy the requirements for sennin koushi.
Monbushou asked the university to resubmit reports which would satisfy the requirements of the university establishment standards with regard to sennin kyouin (full-time staff) [i.e. kyouju (full professors), jokyouju (associate professors) and koushi (lecturers)].
Monbushou was asked about the statement which read, "The conditions for meeting university establishment standards were not related to the recent problem relating to the employment conditions of the part-time, special, irregular 'foreign teachers'."
Monbushou stated that it would not be asking for an improvement in the way the foreign teaching staff were employed.
Since that article was published, there has been no public news relating to further ministerial investigations.
The sponsorship of Mr. Hamada, as a member of the Lower House, ensured that high level Ministry officials met with the delegation. Mr. Hamada has in the past asked official questions in support of foreign university teaching staff in Japan.
Although Monbushou appears to have no official memory of the event, the NUGW did in fact report about the situation of the gaikokujin kyoushi at the PUK to the Ministry in March 1998. The following is paraphrased from union notes of that meeting:
"A spokesman for the university section said that Monbushou had no power over the kinds of contracts made by prefectural universities. It was, however, concerned with the employment of foreign teaching staff at national universities. Renewal of contracts was a matter to be decided by both the universities and the teachers concerned.
"Universities were advised to employ younger teachers if there were several candidates with similar qualifications. Decisions relating to renewal should not be made solely on the basis of the age of the teachers.
"Representatives of the Kumamoto General Union spoke about the situation at the Prefectural University of Kumamoto. They said that in 1993 foreign teaching staff had been asked to sign documents (the shuunin shoudakusho acceptance of appointment) which stated that they would be full-time teaching staff (sennin kyouin), affiliated to the Administration Studies Faculty of the university.
"However, of the eight foreign teachers who signed these documents, four had been employed in 1994 as hijoukin tokubetsu shokutaku ("special, irregular") staff with one year, renewable contracts, while the remaining four had been employed with three year renewable terms of employment.
"None of the Japanese staff who signed these documents were employed on such terms.
"At present there were eight full-time, foreign teachers employed on the 'part-time' contracts, and five with three-year terms. The union delegation asked Monbushou to investigate the situation.
"It was pointed out that the university was still subject to Ministry control even though it was a prefectural university, since the four-year probationary period had not been completed."
The NUGW had received no further communications from Monbushou as a result of its delegation in March 1998.
The visit to Monbushou and the subsequent reports in the Kumamoto Nichi Nichi Shinbun (19 February 1999 and 25 February 1999) appear to have had a significant effect on the outcome of a hearing, in the Regional Labour Commission, concerning a claim brought forth by the Kumamoto General Union and NUGW. The prefecture and university claimed that they had submitted documents outlining their systems for employing foreign teachers, and had obtained confirmation from official sources (although not from Monbushou itself) that those employment rules were in line with ministerial standards. Monbushou's responses to the contrary undermined this assertion. Thus Monbushou's pronouncements can only have enhanced the credibility of union claims that sennin no kyouin was incompatible with hijoukin (part-time) employment.
The full implications of the PUK affair have not yet emerged. Monbushou announcements should make it impossible for public universities to continue to employ sennin (full-time) foreign teaching staff under section 3, subsection 3 of the Regional Public Servants Law as part-time, special, irregular gaikokujin kyoushi. One can expect that the attractiveness of such employment to universities will diminish. If universities are unable to count these gaikokujin kyoushi as full-time for educational and budgetary purposes there will be little point in continuing to use this peculiar employment status. The challenge for the foreign teaching staff employed in this way will be to ensure they achieve a smooth transition to joukin (regular/full-time) employment. For the teachers at the PUK the transition is incomplete (two teachers still work as gaikokujin kyoushi) and has been anything but smooth.
Farrell Cleary is a New Zealander who has lived in Kumamoto since 1986. He was a gaikokujin kyoushi on a one-year contract at the Prefectural University of Kumamoto for eight years. As of April 1, 1999, he has been given a Gaikokujin Kyouin post with a three-year contract. He is Vice-President of the Kumamoto General Union.
The Proof of the Pudding
The Settlement for Two of the Fired
Tokubetsu Shokutaku Hijoukin Gaikokugo Kyoushi
Ed's Note: Before getting into details of the settlement, some loose ends need to be stitched together.
PUK did some job-status juggling to shift the balance even more in their favor. Up until March 31, 1998, foreigners on one-year contracts were labelled, tokubetsu shokutaku hijoukin gaikokujin kyoushi. After that, however, their job position title became tokubetsu shokutaku hijoukin gaikokuGO kyoushi ("foreign language teacher" instead of "foreign teacher"). This was an attempt to exonerate the university from claims of discrimination by focussing on "language" instead of "nationality". In theory, Japanese nationals would also be employable under this title--that is, if a Japanese would be foolish enough to take a job which would entail full-time work at part-time conditions. Nobody has been. The result: same horse, different paint.
Then, within the 1998 academic year, all tokubetsu shokutaku etc. were informed that they would face firing through contract nonrenewal on March 31, 1999. This was not due to professional problems vis-a-vis the teachers; PUK was unilaterallly abolishing the tokubetsu shokutaku etc. system, full stop. The rug was pulled out: The nonexistence of a position meant the unavailability of a job, QED, and those unfortunates on the old system were told to reapply from scratch for a few koma on workvisaless, bonusless, health insuranceless part-time hijoujin positions, or for a three-year gaikokujin kyouin position should one magically open up. Or, of course, go find work elsewhere. Magically, one kyouin position did open up, when a few PUK educators unaffiliated with the union packed their bags, and one was a gaikokujin kyouin who bailed out midway through his appointment to get tenured elsewhere. Three kyoushi refused to be uprooted: Cynthia Worthington, Sandra Mitchell, and Farrell Cleary.
As encouraged by their legal counsel, all three applied for the gaikokujin kyouin position. Farrell got it, receiving notice of appointment in mid-March, 1999. Cynthia Worthington and Sandra Mitchell, however, were refused any employment and would thus be fired on March 31, 1999. All attempts to negotiate a different result, such as regularization of employment as real full-timers, were ignored by the university. So the union had two options: 1) go for a court injunction (to see if there were grounds for a case in a full court trial--the quicker option), or 2) sue the university in court (which would take years, if not decades, with no income in the interim).
There was, however, a third option--bring in a commission to adjudicate. The union in December 1998 decided to ask the Kumamoto Regional Labor Commission (chihou roudou iinkai) to arbitrate in this dispute--and bring the school (whose attendance was now required by law) to the bargaining table for the first time, to face and acknowledge the problem, and to discuss the possibility of a settlement (wakai). The Commission in itself was not all that powerful--it is unable to rule on a point of law or whether there was a violation of contract; its jurisdiction lay in seeking out unfair labor practices. However, a finding against the university would give the union a greater standing if and when it later went to court. It would also fuel the community's already wagging tongues, and shame Kumamoto's prefectural university with an image of being uncooperative and an unfair employer. Depending on the climate of the talks (which, by your Editor's eyewitness account, would turn out to be very sympathetic to the union's view), the university would indeed have a strong incentive to settle.
Essentially, the whole point of involving the Labor Commission was to try to settle the problem before it became a messy court case. Even if its ruling is non-binding, the Labor Commission is a useful avenue to get people talking and propel them into a settlement. Keep it in mind as an option, for in Kumamoto it was the lynchpin of the deal. Read on to see the Press Release on the Settlement, some review, an account of the procedures involved, and some analysis.
-- Dave Aldwinckle
Statement on the Conclusion of Agreement
March 31, 1999
1. We are happy to announce that [Prof.] Dr. Cynthia Worthington and [Prof.] Ms. Sandra Mitchell will be able to continue their employment at PUK. We appreciate the flexibility that the President of PUK and the officials of Kumamoto Prefecture have shown in making this momentous decision.
2. Dr. Worthington and Ms. Mitchell are happy to be able to continue their involvement in the education of the students whom they love so much.
3. In the coming months, we hope that PUK will make a concerted effort to secure for Ms. Worthington and Ms. Mitchell the stable status commensurate with their full-time responsibilities. (ippan shokumu sennin kyouin)
4. This conflict arose in response to practices which discriminate against foreign faculty. We will continue to strive to build a society that is free of discrimination. We hope PUK will assume a leading role in this endeavor.
Masanori HANADA, Spokesperson
Coalition Against Discrimination at the Prefectural University of Kumamoto
Translation of the above Statement in Japanese:
4. 今回の件はそもそも外国人差別に基づいて始まったものと判断されるます。私達は今後 とも外国人と日本人が差別なく共にに生きる社会を作るよう努力していきます。その先頭に県立大学が立たれることを期待いたします。
1999年3月31日 熊本県立大学外国人教員を守る会 代表 花田昌宣 熊本学園大学教授
A "SETTLEMENT" IS BROKERED
BUT FUNDAMENTAL QUESTIONS UNRESOLVED
On March 31, 1999, at the 11th hour, Kumamoto Prefecture and the Prefectural University of Kumamoto (hereinafter PUK) pressed their seals onto a settlement agreement (wakai 和解) brokered by the Regional Labor Commission (chihou roudou iinkai). Essentially, the terms of the wakai permit two of the teachers who had been dismissed by the university to continue employment.
Why is this event significant? Why does continued employment matter? It is a nail in the coffin still under construction around the edifice of systemic discrimination practiced at Japanese universities.
EVENTS PRIOR TO SUBMISSION TO THE LABOR COMMISSION (SUMMARY RECAP)
A. The Employment of Foreign Teachers as Part-time, Special, Irregular Foreign Teachers
On July 27, 1997, some of the teachers at the PUK, upon the advice of their attorney, formed the Kumamoto General Union. The formation of the union was the result of 15 years of failed attempts to discuss the issue of unfair treatment of foreign teachers at the university, growing uncertainty over continued employment, and promises and agreements not honored. In particular, as discussed more fully elsewhere in this journal, until 1993 all "full-time" foreign teachers at the PUK were given the formal status of part-time, special, irregular foreign teacher (hijoukin tokubetsu shokutaku gaikokujin kyoushi). No Japanese teacher with the same responsibilities and duties at the university was employed as anything other than a "regular" full-time employee.
The distinction in status of employment meant that the foreign teachers were denied normal academic rank, promotion rights, full membership in a faculty, full salary, bonuses, and other benefits, while performing the same or similar duties as the Japanese teachers. It also meant one-year renewable contracts rather than the "permanent" posts occupied by the Japanese full-time teachers.
B. Acceptance of Appointment and FOIA Documents
The foreign teachers had signed Acceptance of Appointment (shuuninshodakusho) documents in 1993 and 1994 that the PUK submitted to the Ministry of Education as part of its accreditation process stating that the teachers were sennin kyouin, or full-time faculty members. Moreover, the university also submitted documents to the Ministry, which the union obtained through the prefecture's recently enacted Freedom of Information Act (FOIA), stating that those teachers were all full-time teachers holding academic titles, such as professor, associate professor, and assistant professor (sennin kyouju, sennin joukyouju, sennin koushi). (See Farrell Cleary's and Cynthia Worthington's other articles in this journal.) The PUK failed to honor those Agreements and continued to employ the foreign teachers as part-time, special, irregular workers.(1)
C. Legal Basis for Formation of the Kumamoto General Union and Union Activities
As public employees, the "regular" full-time teachers are severely limited in permissible union activity and are not covered by the various labor laws. For example, they cannot strike nor is the public employer enjoined to enter into collective bargaining negotiations with any union formed by civil servants. Yet, due to a "loophole" in the Local Government Employees Act, the legislation governing the employment of prefectural public servants, the employment conditions of employees hired as part-time, special, irregular workers under article 3, section 3 of that Act are considered so precarious since they are exempted from the security that accrues to government employees that such employees are instead specifically covered by the various labor laws.
Since the "full-time" part-time, special, irregular foreign teachers were employed under that provision, the university found itself in the peculiar and uncomfortable position of having a group of teachers in its midst with the right to form a labor union, go on strike, and insist on collective bargaining negotiations. In July 1997, the Kumamoto General Union submitted its demands which called for the elimination of discriminatory employment practices based on nationality and rectification of the status arbitrarily and improperly assigned to the majority of full-time foreign teachers.
Five negotiation sessions followed but were utterly fruitless. Finally in February 1998, the president of the PUK broke off negotiations, claiming that the university, as a public employer, had no obligation to discuss terms and conditions or change in status with the teachers.(2) Faced with no alternative to getting a fair hearing, the union decided to hold a one-day strike on June 24, 1998.
D. Foreign Language Education "Review" and Decision to Dismiss Six of the Foreign Teachers
During the summer, the university accelerated its "review" of foreign language education. By September, it had decided to reduce the number of English classes offered in one of the faculties and increase class size which necessarily would have entailed the gradual reduction in the number of English teachers needed. The union naturally viewed this as a thinly-veiled attempt at union busting.
On September 30, 1998, however, the president made a surprise announcement to the university council. He stated that the position of part-time, special, irregular, temporary foreign teacher would be discontinued as of the academic year 1999-2000, which essentially meant that the six foreign teachers employed under that status would be fired. He also stated that three new "regular" full-time positions would be created for teachers of English but that recruitment would be open to the world with no preference accorded to the teachers currently on board. Real part-time teachers (hijoukin koushi) would replace the "irregular" teachers to fill in the gap in courses.
After receiving notice of that announcement and the upcoming dismissals, sympathizers organized a formal support group called the Coalition against Discrimination at the Prefectural University of Kumamoto which began to work together with the union. The group intensified the drive to garner sponsors and supporters for the appeal to end discriminatory employment practices at the PUK and return the teachers to their jobs.
CHIHOU ROUDOU IINKAI (REGIONAL LABOR COMMISSION)
A. Function of the Commission
The Regional Labor Commission hears petitions from workers and unions covered by the labor laws. Its role is primarily that of a broker, a mediator when the parties to a labor dispute cannot find common ground. Its decisions do not resemble those of a court which can involve a ruling on the law and a declarative judgment, such as payment of wages or right to continued employment. Instead, the labor commission makes a "finding" seeking to get the parties to agree. Such a finding, while it cannot be enforced, carries social weight. The usual course undertaken by the Commission is to schedule one session a month with the expectation that the whole process will take at least a year to complete. B. Plaintiff's Petition
In November 1998, the Kumamoto General Union (the plaintiff), as is its right under the labor law, initiated proceedings in the Labor Commission. It claimed that the teachers were unfairly dismissed (an unfair labor practice), that the university had engaged in union busting (also an illegal activity), and that under the Labor Standards Act, the one-year contracts had been transformed into unlimited term employment since continuous renewal had taken place since many years. The petition and subsequent documents also included the various issues of the propriety of employing the teachers as part-timers considering the nature of their work, the Acceptance of Appointment documents, and the FOIA documents, as well as the general problem of discrimination which was (and is) the crux and source of the problems associated with the university's employment practices of foreign teachers.
C. Respondents' Position
The respondents (Kumamoto Prefecture and the PUK, formally represented by the Governor and president, respectively) submitted briefs arguing that the foreign teachers did not have the right to continued employment since as public employees the teachers have no right of expectation of renewal, that the decision to dismiss the teachers was not due to the strike or union activities, and that since the contract terms state 30 hours per week/20 days per months, the teachers are ipso facto part-time. The respondents also claimed that the word sennin, an educational category, does not necessarily connote full-time, or joukin status of employment.
D. Labor Commission Hearings
From December 1998 until March 26, 1999, a total of five sessions were held at the Labor Commission's office located rather ominously, for plaintiff at least, right in the prefecture's administrative offices building. Four members comprised the body of the Commission: one commissioner "sympathetic" to workers, in this case a representative of one of the national labor unions; one neutral commissioner; one commissioner "sympathetic" to employers, an executive of a regional television station; and a neutral chairman, a professor of law at a local university.
The Commission read and considered the documents submitted by the parties and during the hearings raised questions, usually for clarification purposes, and occasionally requested further documentary submissions. During the sessions, each side sat, ex parte, before the Commission; plaintiff did not see respondents except when the Commission would call the two parties together to agree to a date and time for the next hearing. E. Jurisdiction of Labor Commission
Although the submissions by both parties brought in the larger issues of employment discrimination, administrative prerogative regarding decisions of employment, the legitimacy of employing the foreign teachers as part-time, special, irregular workers, the Commission formally can only make a finding on the limited issues raised under the labor laws, in this case whether the firing of the teachers amounted to an unfair labor practice. The tribunal could not be the forum to find satisfaction on the legitimacy of the university's overall employment practices, but was an appropriate body to consider the important issue of the continued livelihood of two of the teachers. Naturally, however, the broader themes can influence the commissioners and proved important factors in the outcome.
THE ELEVENTH HOUR WAKAI
On February 18, 1999, members of the teachers' support group, union representatives, a Diet member, and some of the teachers visited Ministry of Education to raise the question of the status of the foreign teachers at the PUK. (See Farrell Cleary's article in this journal for a detailed description of that visit and follow-up.) The Ministry claimed that it did not know and had not approved of the PUK's practice of employing as "part-time, special, irregular" workers those foreign teachers it had submitted to the Ministry as full-time teachers with academic titles. After that visit, the mood perceptibly shifted among the Labor Commission members.
At the hearing on March 3, 1999, the Commissioners had the newspaper clippings detailing the visit among their material, mentioned the contents, and questioned the members who had participated in the visit. The Commission then proceeded to schedule the next hearing on March 24, a sympathetic gesture in the light of the upcoming dismissals.
On March 24, in an surprise move, the Commission offered the parties its "finding": a proposed wakai, or settlement agreement. The action was unusual since the parties were still in the "investigative" phase of the hearings and the Commission, by offering the wakai, had thereby accelerated and telescoped what are usually long, drawn-out proceedings.
The wakai offered by the Commission was a great validation of the union's position. It stated the university should continue to employ the teachers and formally recognized that there was an employment problem at the university which required "sincere" discussions.
The respondents were unhappy, however, and wanted to add an employment non-renewal clause and eliminate mention of an employment problem. The plaintiff was adamant about rejecting limits to renewal since such a concession would have amounted to an agreement to leave after one year. This is the Devil's choice offered to most foreign teachers who openly object to dismissal: a university typically offers the teacher one more year of nonrenewable employment if the teacher drops his protest.
Thirteen hours later a document emerged which avoided imposing a cap on renewal of employment but involved other concessions by the union. The Labor Commission scheduled another session two days later.
On March 26 after a marathon round of negotiations, the wording of the wakai was tweaked in minor ways. Most of the day was taken up with discussion of the official commentary on the wakai, as the respondents sought to make the settlement appear more palatable. The result, nonetheless, retained the essence of the Labor Commission's original proposal: return to work of the two union members not already reemployed sans a nonrenewable clause, as well as promises of discussions about improving the working environment of the teachers.(3)
THE MEANING OF THE WAKAI
A translated text of the wakai follows:
1) Appointment for one year for Sandra Mitchell and Cynthia Worthington as gaikokugo kyoushi affiliated to the Foreign Language Center.
2) The prefecture and university understand that Sandra Mitchell and Cynthia Worthington expect (kitai suru) to be given regular appointments. The union recognizes that the changing to regular status or the renewal of appointment are administrative actions to be taken at the discretion of the prefecture and university.
3) All parties will earnestly hold meetings working towards the establishment of sound labor relations.
4) The union withdraws the present claim [for unfair labor practice, i.e. the dismissal of union members with a view to crushing the union].
5) Both parties confirm that the present issue has been resolved.
The text merely states that the dismissed teachers are to be reemployed and that talks will be held to improve labor relations. There is no mention of a cap on renewal nor, and this is important, have the teachers agreed to leave after one year. The wakai makes clear that the teachers expect to be given regular appointments. Since the university and prefecture have made it plain that by next year they intend to discontinue the practice of employing teachers in the part-time, special, irregular, foreign teacher status, the two irregular teachers expect that their appointments as regular, full-time teachers will take place by the end of this academic year.
Questions about the legitimacy of the status of the irregular teachers, the Acceptance of Appointment document terms not honored, and the discrimination at the heart of all the problems at the PUK are still open and unresolved. The wakai simply highlighted the work to be done in dismantling PUK's unequal employment system, where in contrast to their Japanese sennin colleagues, all the foreign sennin teachers have one- or three-year term limits,
Nevertheless, the wakai, despite its limited purview in returning teachers to their jobs without examining the legitimacy of the employment system itself, has been deemed a significant achievement. It is one step in keeping administrators and bureaucrats marginally honest and more inclined to meet their obligations to employees and citizens and non-citizens, alike. That and the teachers' and their supporters' efforts at eliminating systemic discrimination are being viewed as important examples, precedents which will inspire others to resist unreasonable and illegitimate actions and speak up for those rights guaranteed but not yet enforced under the law.
(1) From 1993, the PUK also began employing some of the foreign teachers as "regular" full-time teachers with academic rank, in almost all respects holding positions commensurate with their regular, full-time Japanese colleagues with one important difference: only the foreign regular full-time teachers had three-year term limits while the Japanese teachers held "permanent" posts.
(2) This is a legal issue which is still unsettled in Japan.
(3) During the hearings, the PUK solicited applications for the three "new" regular posts that had been created by the prefecture for teachers of foreign languages. The three "irregular" teachers in the union were urged to apply, though in principle they believed they already were regular teachers by virtue of the Acceptance of Appointment documents and the nature of their work. The positions, though open to worldwide competition, were offered to three of the six "irregular" teachers whose employment was to end. Two posts were offered to non-union members and the third to one of the three "irregular" teachers belonging to the union. (One of the six teachers had already left for a post at another university.) The offer of employment to a union member would deflect accusations of union busting.
It is noteworthy that the two "irregular" teachers still at the university who were not considered for the posts were the only two foreign women at the university. The PUK has only 10 regular women faculty members out of 90, despite guidelines from the Ministry of Education encouraging greater participation of women in the traditionally male domain of academia and the strengthening on April 1, 1999, of the Equal Employment Opportunity Law for women (kinyou kintou hou). Comments (in English) recently made by a professor that my colleague and this writer were regarded as "troublesome women" and "should know our place" provide a disturbing indication that sexist attitudes persist.
WHAT THE KUMAMOTO KENDAI CASE MEANS AS A PRECEDENT
By David C. Aldwinckle
I am explicitly forbidden by the terms of the Settlement to proclaim what happened as "a victory for the plaintiffs". However, a comparison with some other university labor cases will make my sentiments clear. All of the following cases are summarized on the Blacklist of Japanese Universities (http://www.debito.org/blacklist.html), and linked to more informative sites elsewhere (including back issues of the PALE Journal). To save you a trip to the computer, here is what happened in a nutshell, and why things did not turn out in favor of the plaintiff:
NIIGATA UNIVERSITY CASE (National) (1992-6)
PLAINTIFF: Gaikokujin Kyoushi Sharon Vaipae
CRUX OF THE CASE: Vaipae fired through contract nonrenewal despite oral promises of perpetual job.
METHOD OF PROTEST: Lobbied for reinstatement through university union, community, lawyers, and university colleagues.
WHAT WENT WRONG: No firm support base within university (foreigners viewed as temporary and expendible by fellow educators, even within own department), exhausting perpetual negotiations, and bad timing: Vaipae victim of Monbushou-instituted National University Great Gaijin Massacre of 1992-94.
LESSON TO BE LEARNED: Don't rely on support from university union or fellow educators. Japanese educators will close ranks when pressured from above.
ASAHIKAWA UNIVERSITY CASE (Private) (1996-)
PLAINTIFF: Gaikokujin Kyoushi Gwendolyn Gallagher
CRUX OF THE CASE: Gallagher fired without reason, illegal under private-sector labor laws.
METHODS OF PROTEST: Grass-roots community and legal support, newsletter publicity campaign and high-profile press coverage, injunction from legal system.
WHAT WENT WRONG: Injunction granted, but intransigent Dean defied court order of reinstatement, fired Gallagher again, and put the case back to square one.
LESSON TO BE LEARNED: Still completely undecided as new court decision still pending and will be for some time. Dreadful legal precedent: Courts do not have the apparatus to enforce their own rulings, calling into question the efficacy of the Rule of Law in Japan.
UNIVERSITY OF THE RYUKYUS CASE (National) (1997-8)
PLAINTIFF: Gaikokujin Kyoushi Timothy J. Korst
CRUX OF THE CASE: Korst fired through contract nonrenewal for personal, not professional, reasons (boss didn't like him).
METHODS OF PROTEST: Appeals to the local government foreigner-protection ombudsmen, own union formation, involvement in shuntou marches.Sought injunction in regional court on basis of unfair dismissal.
WHAT WENT WRONG: Ombudsmen ineffectual. Injunction denied. Exhausted Korst decided not to appeal.
LESSON TO BE LEARNED: Government ombudsman notwithstanding, bureaucrats close ranks and will not criticize each other. Dreadful legal precedent: irresponsible judge found that Korst's job status was neither public nor private, and thus laws protecting employment rights were unclear in applicability to foreigners. Moreover, court opinion was that as Korst had signed a contract, he was complicit in limiting his own job duration; in sum, do not sign a contract or you acknowledge your firability.
PREFECTURAL UNIVERSITY OF KUMAMOTO CASE (Public) (1985-)
PLAINTIFFS: Tokubetsu Shokutaku Hijoukin Gaikokujin/go Kyoushi Cynthia L. Worthington, Farrell D. Cleary, and Sandra Mitchell.
CRUX OF THE CASE: Egregiously discriminatory hiring and firing practices for over a decade, deception of both employees (part-time job status in practice despite full-time status in documentation), deception of Ministry of Education (to receive ministry approval for advancement from women's college to prefectural university), illegal activities including nonpayment of unemployment insurance and refusal to negotiate with a union.
METHODS OF PROTEST: Union formation with several plaintiffs and a working team of professional Japanese unionists and legal scholars, constant cultivation and maintenance of grass-roots community support, a high-profile publicity campaign with press conferences, speaking tours, concerts, petitions, and articles in the local and international media, a bilingual internet information site, positive press coverage, a strike on university grounds, access to their documentation on file in Tokyo through the prefecture's Freedom of Information Act, a visit to Monbushou, arbitration through Regional Labor Commission.
WHAT WENT RIGHT: Plaintiffs sought and maintained their own support networks instead of waiting for them to appear. Settlement was reached in end-March, 1999, and all three of the above were rehired (albeit two are still under ambiguous job status for at least one year).
LESSON TO BE LEARNED: If possible, union with more than one plaintiff, constant professional advice and involvement, and exposing the public to the facts of the case are all crucial. Public appeals within a tight-knit community brings in the forces of shame. This case is a healthy precedent reinforcing a union's legal right to exist and be talked to, and a deterrent to other universities (Toyama University has recently decided to tenure two non-Japanese educators instead of dealing with PUKesque turmoil) considering discriminating against people on the basis of nationality.
In sum, we are getting better at this, and nobody has yet done it as well as the Kumamoto people. Keep reading the PALE Journal as we catalog future cases and build up a database for all to reference.
(to reference that database, click here)
PALE JOURNAL APRIL 1999 ENDS